Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan sparred at a panel discussion during the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, hours after meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the process of normalization of relations between the two countries.
The panel discussion also included Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the Secretary General of the OSCE Helga Schmid and was moderated by Chairman of the Munich Security Conference Christoph Heusgen.
Aliyev peppered his remarks by advancing the false narratives of his country and reiterating his claims that “there is no such administrative unit as Nagorno Karabakh and that the word Nagorno Karabakh is no longer valid.” He also accused Armenia of destroying and desecrating mosques. The Azerbaijani leader also said that the November 9, 2020 agreement constituted a “capitulation” by Armenia.
In his response Pashinyan reminded Aliyev that the November 9, 2020 statement signed by Aliyev himself contains the words “Nagorno Karabakh” and cautioned the Azerbaijani leader against making highly dangerous statements that could be viewed as attempts to give religious context to the situation or deepen enmity. Pashinyan said the platform must be used to make things better.
“About Nagorno Karabakh. You know, President [Aliyev] mentioned the tilateral statement, which has provisions that include Nagorno Karabakh and we have signature of the president of Azerbaijan under this document,” Pashinyan said. “And we have the Lachin corridor that should be freely operable — and by the way according to that trilateral statement — outside of Azerbaijan’s control, and it carries the signature of president of Azerbaijan.”
To illustrate his point, Pashinyan recalled the recent incident when children traveling to Artsakh after the Lachin Corridor blockade on a convoy led by the International Committee of the Red Cross, masked Azerbaijani men stormed the vehicles and terrorized the passengers.
He said through Baku’s actions and accusations it could be concluded that Azerbaijan is advancing a policy of revenge. Pashinyan added that the mandate presented to them as leaders of their respective countries should be used to advance more tolerance and transparency.
“I am proud that our government was able to have free, democratic elections in our country that was acknowledged internationally as free, democratic and transparent and competitive event after the war. And as I said, from our point of view the solution is democracy, the solution is transparency, solution is dialogue, respect, for all countries in our region. And we are ready to work in that direction,” Pashinyan said.
Heusgen, the Munich Security Conference chair and the moderator asked Pashinyan to address the Lachin Corridor blockade.
“It already has been 70 days that the Lachin corridor is blocked and now unfortunately we have a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh, and an anergy crisis as well because electricity supplies to Nagorno Karabakh have been cut off, and the gas supplies as well have been shut down,” said Pashinyan.
“We have counted and during last 70 days the gas supplies were cut off at least 10 times and it is a problem that should be addressed. And our position is that in the trilateral statement from November 9, 2020 we have very precise provisions connected with the Lachin corridor, and according to that statement it is the obligation of Azerbaijan and the Russian peacekeepers to keep the Lachin corridor operable,” explained Pashinyan.
“Now, unfortunately, we have totally different situation and I meant Lachin corridor as well saying that international attention should be kept on this situation, because we are afraid that continuation of this situation can cause irreversible humanitarian consequences for Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh,” Pashinyan said.