“Azerbaijan’s provocative steps and maximalist ambitions are creating new threats to the region, Armenia and Artsakh (Karabakh),” he said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “In this context, I want to emphasize the key role which is played by the Russian Federation in maintaining stability and security in our region.”
He singled out the presence of Russian troops in Armenia and a separate peacekeeping contingent which Moscow deployed in Karabakh after brokering a ceasefire that stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war last November.
Pashinian spoke two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev met in Moscow amid intense gunfire exchanged by Armenian and Azerbaijani troops across a section of the border between the two South Caucasus states.
In his opening remarks at the talks, Putin thanked Aliyev for helping to find “compromise solutions” in the Karabakh conflict zone.
“They are always the most difficult ones,” he said. “But if we want … a settlement, we must follow that path. So far we have managed to do that, for which I want to thank you.”
Putin received Pashinian in the Kremlin on July 7. He said that after winning parliamentary elections held on June 20 the Armenian leader has a popular mandate to address “very acute and sensitive issues” facing Armenia.
Putin telephoned Pashinian on June 24 to discuss Russian-backed plans to restore transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan envisaged by the November truce accord as well as a follow-up agreement reached by the leaders of the three counties in January. He also spoke with Aliyev by phone June 23.
Pashinian claimed on Thursday that Baku is trying to thwart the implementation of the Russian-brokered agreements by provoking more armed incidents on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and refusing to release dozens of Armenian prisoners remaining in Azerbaijan. He reiterated that Yerevan is interested in opening the border for commercial traffic.
Aliyev told Putin that he wants to make sure that the “post-conflict period continues as painlessly as possible.”
The Azerbaijani president said last week that Yerevan must sign a “peace treaty” with Baku which would presumably mean a formal Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh. “The Armenians must think carefully about that because it could be too late for them in the future,” he warned.
In that context, Aliyev again referred to much of Armenia’s territory, including the capital Yerevan, as “historical Azerbaijani lands” and said Azerbaijanis will eventually “return to their ancestral lands.”
Pashinian was quick to condemn Aliyev’s “statements threatening Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”