Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan admitted on Thursday that “mutual distrust” between Armenia and Azerbaijan is delaying the signing of a peace deal between the two countries.
“By and large the reason is the distrust between the sides, because every time, we see in Azerbaijan’s statements and certain actions — and perhaps they see in ours — intentions to abandon agreements and plan aggressive actions that negatively impact efforts to finalize the text of a document,” Pashinyan told parliament.
He said that several other key issues are yet to be clarified, one of which is the development of a mechanism for overcoming the possible misinterpretations of the contents of the peace treaty.
“Unfortunately that’s the reality, that sometimes every sentence can be interpreted differently, therefore we must have very clear parameters on how to address issues in case of differing interpretations. The other [issue] is the creation of security guarantees, so that no escalation will be possible after the signing of the peace treaty,” Pashinyan added.
The prime minister said his government intends to intensify diplomatic and political efforts to address these issues.
Baku announced on Thursday that it will skip a planned meeting of foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan that was organized by the State Department.
In his remarks to parliament, Pashinyan also attempted to address criticism by Baku about Armenia’s increased defense spending, saying a significant increase projected in the 2024 budget was aimed at guaranteeing Armenia’s security.
“This is not a preparation for war, but for peace, because the sense of protection among our citizens is the most important guarantee for peace and stability,” Pashinyan said.
“I am convinced that all neighboring countries know that we don’t intend to attack anyone,” Pashinyan explained.
“First of all, any sovereign state has not only the right but also the obligation to reform and strengthen its military, something we are doing. And secondly, in the last ten years, Azerbaijan’s defense spending was on an average three times higher than ours. And basically it remains the same,” Pashinyan said in response to his critics and detractors.
This week, official Baku condemned France for providing military equipment, saying that Paris was engaged in “arming Armenia,” which he said stymied efforts to establish peace in the region.