Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh will not agree to territorial concessions Azerbaijan in return for mere peace in the region, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Wednesday.
“We can’t even discuss the lands-for-peace formula,” he told reporters in Yerevan.
In that regard, Pashinian rejected parallels drawn by his political opponents between his policy on the conflict with Azerbaijan and a conciliatory line on Karabakh that was favored by Armenia’s former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
“I think that our government is pursuing a policy on the Karabakh issue which no other government [of Armenia] pursued in the past,” he said. “Attempts to find parallels or similarities with any former political course are utter nonsense.”
Ter-Petrosian was forced by his key ministers to resign in 1998 after strongly advocating a Karabakh peace plan put forward by the U.S., Russian and French mediators in 1997. The plan called for the liberation of virtually all districts around Karabakh that were occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war. It envisaged no mechanisms for determining Karabakh’s status, the main bone of contention.
Over the past decade, the mediating powers have advanced a similar settlement calling for Armenian withdrawal from those districts. In return, Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would determine the disputed territory’s internationally recognized status in a future referendum.
It is not clear whether Pashinian supports this peace formula in principle or has discussed it with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The two men have met for three times since the end of September, most recently in Davos on January 22.
“The meetings with Aliyev were not negotiations,” said Pashinian. “They were informal contacts during which we simply exchanged thoughts.”