Pashinyan warns of Turkey’s Genocidal Policy In interviews with AFP and BBC
Turkey’s “full support” motivated its ally Azerbaijan to reignite fighting in Artsakh, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Tuesday in an interview with Agence France Presse, calling the escalating conflict a “war against terrorism.”
“While it is true that the leadership of Azerbaijan has been actively promoting bellicose rhetoric for the last 15 years, now the decision to unleash a war was motivated by Turkey’s full support,” Pashinyan told AFP. “Without Turkey’s active engagement this war would have not begun.”
He condemned Azerbaijan for waging a “terrorist war against a people struggling for their freedom.”
Pashinyan said that the latest military hostilities seen the “active engagement of terrorist groups from the Middle East in the conflict zone,” describing the role of Armenian forces as a “counter-terrorism operation.”
Last week French President Emanuel Macron said that Turkey-backed jihadists were fighting alongside Azerbaijani troops and accused Turkey of crossing a “red line.” The head of Russia’s national intelligence on Tuesday also confirmed the existence of mercenaries in the Karabakh war. A pentagon official last week also corroborated it to Sky News.
In the AFP interview, Pashinyan added that Turkey’s F-16 fighter jets were “actively engaged” in the conflict. Yerevan said last week that an Armenian fighter jet was shot down by an F-16 last week over Vardenis.
The Armenian leader told AFP that Turkey had involved itself in the Karabakh conflict as part of its “policy of Armenian genocide.”
“Turkey has returned to the South Caucasus to continue the Armenian genocide,” he said. Armenia has become “the last obstacle” to Turkish expansion, Pashinyan said.
He also warned that if “Europe fails to properly call this situation by its name,” it could see Turkish forces outside Vienna, referring to the Ottoman Empire laying siege to the city in the 17th century.
Yet if the current conflict deteriorates so far that Armenia experiences a direct attack on its territory, Pashinyan said he is sure that his nation’s key ally Russia would come to its aid due to the two countries’ membership in a military alliance.
“In case of a security threat to Armenia, Russia’s engagement will be subject to our treaty framework. I am confident that as per the situation… Russia will uphold its treaty obligations,” the prime minister said.
As for the international community and the European leaders with whom Pashinyan has been exchanging multiple phone calls in recent days, he said that “the best response … to this terrorist operation would be to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Pashinyan also told AFP that Armenia and Artsakh were ready to sit at the negotiation table with Azerbaijan based on “mutual concessions.” He said Armenia would consider discussing concessions if Azerbaijan agrees to the same.
In another interview with the BBC, Pashinyan said that Armenians of Artsakh were facing an existential threat.
“You said you have come from Stepanakert,” Pashinyan told the reporter who had just returned from Artsakh. “You saw that the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh are facing an existential threat. The key point is that if the Azerbaijani armed forces succeed, it will mean genocide of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh.’’
“Azerbaijan does not want Armenians to live there and for that reason it has attacked Nagorno Karabakh with the support of terrorists. And what can anyone suggest? Should the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh say ‘ok, since you are terrorists we will deny our roots?’ It can never happen,’’ Pashinyan said adding that Artsakh has always been Armenian.