Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan on Saturday warned that decisions taken at the upcoming talks between the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia may legitimize the use of force against Artsakh by Azerbaijan and its allies.
He also said that in order to maintain the current situation in Artsakh his government want the tenure of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to be extended indefinitely.
Currently, per the November 9, 2020 agreement, the peacekeepers are stationed in Artsakh for a period of five years, with the possibility of an extension if both Armenia and Azerbaijan jointly agree to it.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Harutyunyan also welcomed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s pledge to advance talks to establish relations with Azerbaijan based on proposals presented by Russia.
“In recent days, the attention of all Armenians — without exaggeration — is focused on the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. A number of power centers submitted proposals to the authorities of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the key issues regarding the settlement.
The proposed principles and approaches, in case of their acceptance and realization, will have crucial importance for both the Republic of Artsakh and its people, and for Armenia and other countries of the region,” said Harutyunyan.
“That’s why we do not have the luxury to make mistakes as any of them may become detrimental. We are confident that those proposals and principles that deny the right of people of Artsakh to self-determination, deprive Artsakh of the prospects of a fair settlement of the conflict and bring into a question the existence of Artsakh will be rejected once and forever,” said the statement.
“This stems not only from the interests of the Republic of Artsakh, but also from those of the entire Armenian people, as the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh together form a single homeland and inseparable set of values and interests,” explained the Artsakh president.
“We welcome the statement by Armenia’s Prime Minister saying that Armenia has agreed to work toward the establishment of interstate relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan in early September of the current year, based on the principles and parameters presented by Russia, and is ready to reaffirm this at the high-level meeting to be held in Sochi on October 31,” said Harutyunyan.
“Of course, as a result of the negotiation process, we would like to achieve a fair and final settlement of the Karabakh conflict and international recognition of the independent status of the Republic of Artsakh. However, taking into account the existing challenges and limited possibilities, in our opinion, the Russian proposals mostly meet the minimum standards that allow and ensure the security of Artsakh and do not call into question its future,” the statement said.
“We express our hope that as a result of the tripartite summit to be held on October 31, it will be possible to ensure the elements related to the fate of Artsakh. First of all, we are talking about the [indefinite] extension of the mission of the Russian peacekeeping troops deployed in Artsakh,” emphasized Harutyunyan. “Their presence in Artsakh is of vital importance, because since November 2020, Russian peacekeepers bear the main responsibility for the security of the Republic of Artsakh and its people. The second key factor is maintaining the current status of Artsakh at the very least.”
“The statement of the President of the Russian Federation during a meeting at the Valdai International Club inspires certain hopes that these goals are completely achievable,” said Harutyunyan. “We anticipate that the vital interests of the Artsakh Republic and, first of all, the inalienable right of the Artsakh people to self-determination will be fully protected during the upcoming negotiations. There are no alternatives to the international recognition of the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination and actually realizing that.”
“We are confident that with joint efforts we will succeed in preventing the legitimization of the consequences of the illegal use of force by Azerbaijan and its allies against the Republic of Artsakh, thus ensuring conditions for a safe and prosperous future of our homeland and people,” Harutyunyan said.
In discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during the Civil Contract party congress on Saturday, Pashinyan said he is willing to sign a document that would extend the term of the Russian peacekeepers presence in Artsakh for “10 to 20 years.”
“We certainly want the Russian peacekeepers to continue their activities in Nagorno Karabakh. I am officially declaring, I am ready to sign a document in Sochi and accept that the Russian peacekeeping presence in Nagorno-Karabakh gets unconditionally, without any terms extended for ten, fifteen or twenty years. I am calling on the Russian president to make this offer,” Pashinyan said.
He said if needed he will submit the proposal, but Russia has to support it. And if Armenia and Russia agree, they will be majority.
Pashinyan also hinted that the Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh have not fully fulfilled their mission and pointed to the March invasion by Azerbaijani forces of the village of Parukh in Artsakh’s Askeran region as an example.
“Azerbaijan’s troops must withdraw from the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers. But this promise, commitment hasn’t been fulfilled so far,” said Pashinyan emphasizing that there must be a response on whether Russia is coherently and strongly defending its own proposals.