Prime Minister says Yerevan will not negotiate with Turkey as long as Ankara sets preconditions. Wants to directly address people of Azerbaijan
STRASBOURG, France—During a presentation at the plenary session of PACE on Thursday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reiterated that the Karabakh conflict cannot be resolved without direct participation of Artsakh and vehemently rejected notions that such a position was aimed at altering the format of the ongoing OSCE Minsk Group-mediated peace talks.
In the same context, Pashinyan was clear to tell the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe delegates that Armenia continued to offer dialogue with Turkey without preconditions, pointing out, however, that Ankara continues to impose preconditions by calling for a resolution to the Karabakh conflict in favor of Azerbaijan.
“In our view, there are several important issues that we need to discuss in order to strengthen the peace agenda on institutional terms. One of these issues is the complete implementation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship format which also supposes the participation of the Nagorno-Karabakh representatives to the peace process because it’s very difficult to understand how we are going to resolve the issue without listening and talking to the main side of the conflict,” said Pashinyan. “Our efforts are aimed at restoring the dialogue between Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh within the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. “
He explained that during the early days of the conflict resolution negotiations, elected officials from the Nagorno-Karabakh were participants in the peace talks, explaining that it just so happened that those very individuals went on to become leaders of the Republic of Armenia, and continued to negotiate with Azerbaijani leaders.
“Our task today is to create conditions for the dialogue between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan not to stop. And this is a very important obligation,” explained Pashinyan.
“In recent times, presenting proposals to our Azerbaijani partners and its society aimed at implementing a peace formula is one of our key objectives. I am happy that Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and I have managed to hold direct, sincere and constructive talks,” said Pashinyan.
“Unfortunately, we still don’t have common views on the mechanisms of the nuances of the conflict resolution. But the fact that we managed to create an atmosphere for constructive and sincere discussion is already quite good,” explained Pashinyan.
The prime minister categorically rejected a notion put forth by a Turkish member of PACE who questioned whether Yerevan was attempting to alter or change the course and format of the talks. In responding to the Turkish representative’s inquiry, he, once again, reiterated that Karabakh was part of the negotiation process in the early days of the talks.
“When we reflect of history, as to what the OSCE Minsk Group is and how it was created, we see that the participation of Artsakh representatives in the negotiations process was implied. Not only was this implied, this also took place,” said Pashinyan. “In the 1990s a meeting between Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev and Artsakh’s President Robert Kocharian took place in Moscow.”
Pashninyan also slammed rhetoric being used by Azerbaijan to describe Armenians as “occupiers.”
“The word occupation is often used. However, people who live in Karabakh, who were born in Karabakh and their grandparents have lived there, how can they be occupying [the land]? How can a person occupy a territory where they themselves were born, where their children were born and were their ancestors were born, lived and are buried?” said Pashinyan, adding that Yerevan’s agenda was to resolve matters that befits the 21st century and not to destroy one another. He said he would like the opportunity to bring his message of peace directly to the people of Azerbaijan.
Within the same context, Pashinyan also discussed Armenia’s relations with its neighbors, pointing out despite non-friendly relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia enjoys extremely good relations with Georgia and Iran.
“You know that unfortunately we do not have diplomatic ties with Turkey and Azerbaijan, and this says it all. The case of Azerbaijan is clear for us all. While Turkey links the establishment of relations with Armenia with our relations with Azerbaijan,” Pashinyan told the PACE delegates.
Pashinyan noted that Armenia has not changed its stance on establishing relations with Turkey, and that Armenia sees relations with neighbors within the agenda of peace.
“Armenia in turn hasn’t changed its stance, we’ve said that we are ready to establish relations with Turkey without pre-conditions, regarding our relations with Azerbaijan I have already generally outlined our perceptions and I would like to stress that we see our relations with Azerbaijan, as well as other neighbors, within context of peace,” said Pashinyan.