Armenian opposition leaders demanded on Wednesday that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian personally comment on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s claim that Yerevan and Baku are “actively discussing” peace proposals calling for Armenian territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.
Lavrov said on Tuesday that he presented them to his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts at a trilateral meeting held in Moscow a year ago. He said the proposals envisage a phased settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which would start with Armenian withdrawal from “several districts around Karabakh.”
Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian implicitly denied this. He insisted that for the last two years the conflicting parties have only exchanged views on “some elements” of peace deals put forward by the Russian, U.S. and French mediators in the past.
Mnatsakanian’s assurances did not satisfy the two opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament. Their top representatives said Lavrov’s statement runs counter to Pashinian’s repeated claims that no Karabakh peace accords have been on the agenda of Armenian-Azerbaijani talks held during his rule.
“With all due respect for my good friend Zohrab Mnatsakanian, I must say that his response was absolutely inadequate,” said Naira Zohrabian of the Prosperous Armenia Party. “He did not answer the most serious and important question: what active negotiations are they talking about?”
“It is very important that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian also reacts,” said Bright Armenia Party leader Edmon Marukian. “Our officials are saying that there are only discussions, not negotiations, while Lavrov is saying that there are negotiations and they center on a particular document.”
Marukian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Yerevan should not only “provide explanations to our public” but also “demand explanations from the Russian side.”
Ruben Rubinian, the pro-government chairman of a parliament committee on foreign affairs, insisted, however, Mnatsakanian’s response was good enough. “The Armenian foreign mister told the truth yesterday,” he said.
In a joint statement issued in March 2019, the mediators reiterated that a Karabakh settlement must involve “return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control; an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance; a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh; future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will.”
This formula has been at the heart of various framework peace accords drafted by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group since 2007.