Armenia was represented in the ceremonies instead by a multi-partisan delegation of its parliament led by deputy speaker Ruben Rubinian.
A government spokesman told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that Pashinian did not travel to Karabakh on the occasion because he is currently on vacation.
Armenia’s Minister of High-Tech Industry Vahagn Khachaturian said, however, that the prime minister and members of his cabinet shunned the low-key celebrations for political considerations.
“A political decision was made Don’t look for other reasons,” Khachatrian told reporters. He did not elaborate.
Tigran Abrahamian, an opposition member of the parliamentary delegation visiting Karabakh, deplored the absence of Armenian government officials, saying Pashinian did not want to anger Azerbaijan.
“If we accept the rules of the game dictated by Azerbaijan we will accelerate and complete the loss of Artsakh (Karabakh),” Abrahamian said, referring to Armenia’s defeat in last year’s war over Karabakh.
Pashinian last visited Stepanakert during the six-week war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire in November.
The premier congratulated the Karabakh Armenians on the anniversary of the proclamation of their republic, not recognized by any country, in a statement issued on Thursday. He reiterated that the Karabakh conflict remains unresolved and that Yerevan will continue to champion a settlement based on the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly stated that Azerbaijan essentially ended the conflict with its victory in the war. He has said that Yerevan should therefore recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh through a “peace treaty” proposed by Baku.
Other Armenian politicians, notably the Karabakh-born former Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian, also issued statements on the occasion. Sarkisian again blamed Armenia’s current leadership for the outcome of the war.
“We would have won had they not discredited and purged our armed forces and replaced experienced commanders with conformists prior to the 44-day war and ineptly managed the war,” he charged.