“Negotiations are going on, but as of now we have no final results,” Avinian told reporters during a visit to Syunik province where Azerbaijani troops reportedly advanced several kilometers into Armenian territory early on Wednesday.
“I believe that we will reach a resolution in one way or another,” he said. “It’s very clear that the Azerbaijani armed forces have crossed into Armenia’s sovereign territory. We definitely want to resolve the situation peacefully and are ready to hold discussions in a calm manner.”
“Having said that, we must be prepared for possible bad developments and also be ready to defend our sovereign territory. In the event of such a bad scenario we expect the support of our allies. But I hope that we will avoid any bad scenario and solve all problems through negotiations,” added Avinian.
Armenian and Azerbaijani military officials met on the border on Thursday to try to resolve the dispute. Representatives of Russian troops deployed in Syunik also reportedly took part in the negotiations that lasted for several hours.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian claimed later on Friday that during those talks the Azerbaijani side agreed to withdraw from Armenian territory occupied by it but has still not honored that pledge in full.
“Since yesterday the Azerbaijanis have left some places but their presence in our territory continues,” Pashinian said during an emergency session of the Armenian parliament. He did not specify those locations.
Pashinian also said Armenian, Azerbaijani as well as Russian officers held fresh talks on Friday. The talks were “interrupted” and will resume on Saturday, he added.
Azerbaijan insisted late on Thursday that its troops did not cross into Armenia and simply took up positions on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier which were not accessible in winter months. The Foreign Ministry in Baku also said that the border between the two South Caucasus states has not been demarcated ever since the Soviet breakup.
Echoing statements by Pashinian, Avinian said that Azerbaijani military commanders on the ground are producing “false maps” to justify their actions.
Pashinian stated in this regard that maps brought by Russian negotiators also show that hundreds of Azerbaijani soldiers remain within Armenia’s internationally recognized borders. Yerevan will use this fact as further proof of the violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity, he said.
Pashinian suggested on Thursday Baku may be intent on “provoking an armed clash” with Armenia six months after a Russian-brokered agreement stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. He noted that the Azerbaijani military is scheduled to start large-scale exercises on Sunday and pointed to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s recent threats to forcibly open a “corridor” connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Syunik.
The Armenian prime minister went on to announce that Yerevan will ask the Collective Security Treaty Organization to invoke Article 2 of its founding treaty which requires the Russian-led military bloc to discuss a collective response to grave security threats facing its member states.
Pashinian told lawmakers on Friday that he has also written to Russian President Vladimir Putin to formally request Russian military assistance in line with bilateral Russian-Armenian defense treaties.
The two men spoke by phone on Thursday night. According to Pashinian, Putin too thinks that the Azerbaijani forces crossed into Armenia and must be withdrawn.