Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed on Wednesday that during talks in Brussels on Sunday he pledged that Armenia recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, essentially agreeing to Artsakh being placed under Baku’s control.
“Three days ago, with the mediation of the President of the EU Council Charles Michel, we took one step further, emphasizing that Armenia recognizes Azerbaijan’s territory of 86,600 square kilometers and Azerbaijan recognizes Armenia territory of 29,800 square kilometers,” Pashinyan declared during remarks at the Council of Europe Summit being held in Reykjavik, Iceland.
After hosting talks between Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, Michel summed up the talks in a statement saying that “the leaders confirmed their unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration and the respective territorial integrity of Armenia (29,800 km2) and Azerbaijan (86,600 km2).”
Artsakh is part of the 86,600 square kilometers of Azerbaijan’s territory referenced in Michel’s announcement and Pashinyan’s statement on Wednesday.
Michel also referred to citizens of Artsakh as “Armenians living in the former Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous oblast,” a term describing Soviet-era Artsakh before it declared independence in 1991.
Since last year, Pashinyan and his Civil Contract party began to distance themselves from Artsakh’s independence and right to self-determination and advanced the notion of guaranteeing the security and rights of the Armenians living in “Nagorno-Karabakh,” dropping the word Artsakh from the government’s vernacular.
On the same day that Pashinyan made the statements in Reykjavik, Azerbaijani forces targeted Armenian military positions in the Gegharkunik Province, killing an Armenian soldiers and injuring a paramedic.
Pashinyan attempted to pivot from the point and called for an international fact-finding mission to the Lachin Corridor, which has been blockaded by Azerbaijan since December 12, despite an International Court of Justice order—which Baku has ignored—compelling Azerbaijan to ensure “unimpeded movement” along the road.
Neither the ICJ ruing nor Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh or its incursion into Armenia’s sovereign territories were mentioned in Michel’s statement on Sunday.
“But as a result of the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh have been under siege for five months and are facing a humanitarian crisis,” Pashinyan told the Reykjavik summit on Wednesday. “To send an international fact-finding mission to the Lachin Corridor and Nagorno Karabakh is of high priority today, and to start Baku-Stepanakert negotiations aimed at providing security and human rights for the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh under the international mechanism is of vital importance.”
Pashinyan said that Yerevan is looking to the Council of Europe for assistance in addressing these issues, which he said “will promote democracy and stability in the South Caucasus.”
In what can only be described as a bizarre effort to rationalize the unacceptable decision to relinquish Artsakh’s independence and self-determination, Pashinyan told the European leaders gathered in Iceland that the un-resolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict somehow hindered the development of democracy in Armenia, and that though the 2018 popular movement he ushered in “democratic developments in the country.”
He said that his government has chosen the path of democracy and peace, despite which, he told the Reykjavik gathering, Azerbaijan invaded the Armenia’s territory first in May 2021.
“In November 2021 and September 2022 Azerbaijan again invaded the territory of Armenia. On October 6, 2022 with support of the French President Macron and President of EU Council Michel, we reached an agreement with the President of Azerbaijan that we normalize our relations on the basis of the 1991 Almaty Declaration, according to which the administrative borders of the former Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan would become our state borders,” said Pashinyan.