Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in an address to the European Parliament on Tuesday, accused Armenia’s “security allies” of plotting regime change in the country, while more than 100,000 Artsakh residents were being displaced as a result of Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing campaign.
In an overt pivot toward Europe, Pashinyan said that while he and his government have been working hard to sustain Armenia’s democracy, others, specifically Armenia’s allies, have been plotting to overthrow the government.
“Democracy in Armenia continues to sustain strong blows which act in nearly the same scenario: foreign aggression, followed by inaction of Armenia’s allies, then attempts to use the war or humanitarian situation or the threat of foreign security to overthrow Armenia’s democracy and sovereignty, which are manifested by incitements of domestic turmoil with hybrid technologies guided by foreign powers,” Pashinyan said.
Armenia underwent such realities several times since 2020, with the most major one happening in September 2022, when Azerbaijan attacked Armenia and occupied sovereign territories.
“The most recent and most tragic incidents of this kind took place very recently, when Azerbaijan, fulfilling its long-standing policy of ethnic cleansing, carried out a large-scale attack on Nagorno Karabakh. At the time when 100,000 Armenians were fleeing Nagorno Karabakh to the Republic of Armenia, our allies in the security sector not only did not help us, but also made public calls for a change of power in Armenia, to overthrow the democratic government,” Pashinyan stressed.
“But the people of the Republic of Armenia consolidated for their own independence, sovereignty, democracy, and another conspiracy against our state failed. The government and the people of the Republic of Armenia combined efforts to solve the problem of accepting and sheltering more than 100,000 Armenians who were victims of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh, and I must record that we did it with dignity, so that our international partners admit that they have not seen a case when 100,000 refugees enter a country in a week and that country can accept all of them without establishing refugee camps and tent settlements,” Pashinyan claimed.
While not naming the so-called “security allies,” Pashinyan on several occasions during his remarks alluded to Armenia’s membership in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and cited the group’s inactions when Azerbaijan attacked and later invaded swaths of Armenia’s sovereign territory since he, along with the leaders of Russia and Azerbaijan, signed the infamous November 9, 2020 agreement.
Pashinyan told European lawmakers that Armenia is ready foster stronger ties with the European Union.
“The Republic of Armenia is ready to be closer to the EU, as close as the EU would consider it possible,” Pashinyan said during his speech.
“Our joint statement with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen says ‘in these difficult times, the EU and Armenia stand shoulder to shoulder.’ Let’s continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with a commitment to make the times better. As I said, I am convinced that democracy can ensure peace, security, unity, prosperity and happiness. Let’s prove this together,” Pashinyan added.
He said that the EU has become one of Armenia’s key partners over the past years.
Pashinyan also expressed his readiness to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan by the end of this year. However, he said, Azerbaijan has been derailing the process, despite numerous warnings his government presented to the EU and other international bodies.
“The Government of Armenia and the European Parliament have repeatedly warned about the imminent ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Government of Armenia has sent many calls to the UN, OSCE, EU to send a fact-finding team to the illegally blocked Lachin Corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh, but no organization made a relevant decision. We initiated three discussions related to the issue in the UN Security Council, but the discussions did not have any practical results and here, Nagorno Karabakh is already depopulated. In the conditions of inactivity of the Russian peacekeeping force, more than 100,000 Armenians left their homes and homeland in Nagorno Karabakh within a week, another 20,000 had been forced to abandon Nagorno Karabakh immediately after the 44-day war, and a part of them had no chance to return to Nagorno Karabakh due to the illegal blocking of the Lachin Corridor, which started in December 2022,” explained Pashinyan.
“And today some are pretending that they do not understand why the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh left their homes en masse. This is cynicism in and of itself, because the answer is more than clear. Azerbaijan clearly and unequivocally demonstrated its decision to make the life of Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh impossible,” emphasized Pashinyan.
“Since December 2022, during the period of the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh have been deprived of external supplies of gas, electricity, fuel, food, baby food, medicine, hygienic and other essential goods, while civilians engaged in agricultural work have been targeted by the Azerbaijani armed forces,” said Pashinyan.
“Since December 2022, we have alerted dozens of times about Azerbaijan’s plan: close the Lachin Corridor, starve people, increase military, informational and psychological pressure, then open the Lachin Corridor, forcing all Armenians to leave,” added Pashinyan.
He said that, after vocally discussing this issue throughout 2023, there was no tangible action by the international community.
“ I do not accept the surprised reaction of some international officials over the depopulation of Nagorno Karabakh that took place in September. At the same time, I must thank the European Parliament for calling what happened in Nagorno-Karabakh by its name. This is important in terms of protecting the future rights of people who have been deprived of their motherland,” Pashinyan said.
The prime minister also said that Armenia is willing to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan by the end of the year.
“We are ready to sign a treaty on peace and normalization of relations with Azerbaijan by the end of the year,” Pashinyan said, adding that Azerbaijan’s refusal to attend a planned meeting earlier this month in Granada, Spain “did not make our work easier.”
Signing a peace treaty by year’s end would be strongly realistic if the principles adopted during meetings in Brussels were officially reaffirmed, Pashinyan said, referring to the agreement he and Aliyev made to recognize each other’s territorial integrity.