Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan sidestepped the issue of self-determination for Artsakh, clearly demonstrating that his government is advocating for security for the people of Artsakh and distancing itself from a long-held principle that guided talks on Artsakh for decades.
“We have said and continue to say that the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh people’s rights and security is extremely important to us,” Pashinyan said at a news conference on Tuesday. “That is one of our main objectives.”
“It’s up to the people and the government of Nagorno-Karabakh to decide the framework of the Nagorno-Karabakh people’s rights and security,” Pashinyan added.
“Our understanding is the following: it would be better for the people of Nagorno Karabakh to be the ones pursuing that issue, the primary mandate holder, the way it actually is. There are both objective and subjective reasons for this position. We believe that this conversation must take place between Baku and Stepanakert,” Pashinyan said.
He was presumably responding to a demand put forth by Artsakh lawmakers who called on Yerevan to firmly state that it was not abandoning Artsakh’s right to self-determination.
Earlier this month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz elevated the need for Artsakh’s self-determination to be highlight in future talks during a joint press conference with Pashinyan in Berlin. The Armenian leader, however, chose to distance himself from such a statement even during an international visit.
At the same time, Pashinyan on Tuesday warned that Azerbaijan would militarily escalate matters on the borders of Armenia and Artsakh.
“My conclusion comes from Azerbaijan’s growing aggressive rhetoric, and of course we have other information as well,” Pashinyan said, adding that since Armenia has not undertake aggressive actions, it has decided to invite observers from the European Union.
“I think the international community must record that indeed there is a high danger of new escalation, and I believe that in this regard taking into account that the Lachin Corridor is closed and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh, as well as Azerbaijan’s explicit preparation for ethnic cleansing, our position remains that it would be very relevant to send an international fact-finding mission to the Lachin Corridor and Nagorno Karabakh,” Pashinyan added.
He accused Azerbaijan of continuously altering the course of discussions, citing Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s supposed agreement to hold discussions with Artsakh representative and later changing the tenor of the talks to be about Baku’s proposed “integration of Artsakh into Azerbaijan.”
He accused Azerbaijan of continued breach of agreements and said that Baku is also “rigging” the draft peace treaty with Armenia with “boost traps” in order to continue “its aggressive policy against Armenia even after the possible signing of the agreement.”
Pashinyan said there are no meetings planned with Aliyev, saying there have to be guarantees that agreements emerging from such talks are implemented.