Addressing scores of supporters in the village of Nerkin Bazmaberd during one of his stops, Pashinian also referred to the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh that ended in the signing of a Russian-brokered ceasefire with Azerbaijan mostly on Baku’s terms.
One of the provisions of the trilateral statement signed by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia calls for the unblocking of “all economic and transport links” in the region, including the construction of new transport communications linking the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan with mainland Azerbaijan via Armenian territory.
A trilateral working group led by deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia was formed in February to work on details of the projects.
The provision on unblocking communications in the region raised concerns in Armenia about possible geopolitical and economic implications of new transport links passing through the country’s southern parts.
In his remarks today Pashinian sought to allay these concerns, saying that unblocking transport communications could be a step towards overcoming animosity in the region.
“This is a mutually beneficial thing. If someone says that the opening of these roads is beneficial only for Azerbaijan, do not believe it. If someone says that the opening of communications is beneficial only for Armenia, do not believe it either. The opening of communications, especially in this situation, is beneficial for both Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the Armenian premier stressed.
“It is in Azerbaijan’s interest, because it will get a communication link with Nakhichevan, and it is in Armenia’s interest, because we will get a reliable railway link with the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran. It means that the economy of our country may essentially change,” he added.
Pashinian’s statement comes two days after he announced the holding of early parliamentary elections in June.
During the rally at Nerkin Bazmaberd Pashinian did not conceal that his political team will seek a fresh mandate from the people to be able to form a government again.
He said, however, that they were ready to accept any outcome of the elections.
Different opposition parties and groups in Armenia have accused Pashinian and his government of incompetence or even treason that they claim resulted in the Armenian defeat in the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. They have been demanding Pashinian’s resignation since the November 10 truce was signed to end six weeks of hostilities in which thousands of soldiers were killed.
Under the deal, a chunk of Nagorno-Karabakh and all seven districts around it were placed under Azerbaijani administration after almost 30 years of control by ethnic Armenian forces.
A coalition of over a dozen opposition parties has been holding anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan and other parts of the country in a bid to force Pashinian to step down and allow an interim government be formed before snap elections could be held within at least a year.
But the prime minister, whose My Step alliance dominates parliament, has refused to hand over power to such an interim government.
Following discussions with the leaders of two opposition parliamentary factions Pashinian said on Thursday that it was agreed that early elections in Armenia will be held on June 20.