Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian accused Azerbaijan on Friday of hampering a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with “maximalist” demands and territorial claims to Armenia.
Pashinian launched unusually scathing attacks on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev as he chaired a meeting of Armenia’s and Karabakh’s top security officials. He complained that Aliyev has never reciprocated his repeated calls for an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal that would satisfy all parties to the conflict.
“It is obvious that with such [Azerbaijani] approaches we cannot anticipate real progress in the negotiation process, especially given that they are accompanied by war threats or territorial and direct or indirect historical claims to the Armenian people,” said Pashinian.
Aliyev, he said, realizes that Baku’s attempts to end the conflict by force would provoke a “more than adequate response” from the Armenian military.
“For more than 15 years [Aliyev] has promised his own people to solve the Karabakh conflict through military force and under this guise they have spent billions of dollars which have very often … ended up on offshore accounts of known people,” Pashinian went on. “And now he cannot explain to his own people why the reality is as it is.”
“He realizes that a possible [military] adventure would not only cause Azerbaijan irreversible devastation but also dismantle his anti-democratic regime,” claimed the Armenian premier. “And so in order to deflect people’s attention and get out of this deadlock he raises the temperature of his statements.”
Pashinian seemed to allude to Aliyev’s recent renewed claims that much of modern-day Armenia, including Yerevan, lies in “historic Azerbaijani lands.”
Aliyev and Pashinian most recently met in February on the sidelines of an annual international security forum in Munich. They publicly traded accusations during a panel discussion on Karabakh held right after their brief talks.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers have since tried to keep the peace process alive despite the coronavirus pandemic. In late April, they held a joint video conference with the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group.
“The Foreign Ministers and Co-Chairs agreed to remain in close contact and to continue negotiations in person as soon as possible,” read a joint statement issued at the time.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced last week that more such talks will be held later this month.