Speaking at an emergency meeting of the country’s Security Council late on Tuesday, Pashinian described the latest escalation as Azerbaijan’s direct aggression against Armenia’s sovereign territory.
“As a result of aggressive actions that began on May 12, 2021, Azerbaijan occupied around 41 square kilometers of Armenia’s sovereign territory. In conditions of the silence of our international partners Azerbaijan continues its aggressive actions… Azerbaijan and forces encouraging it are targeting our sovereignty, our statehood, our independence,” the Armenian leader said.
Pashinian, who also spoke about casualties suffered by Armenian armed forces in the border fighting, acknowledged that “we have had a hard day today and are living through hard times.”
“But today we have also shown that we are here, we do exist, we are a nation, we are a nation state and coercive language is unacceptable to us. We can negotiate, we can search and find mutually acceptable solutions, we behave like a responsible member of the international community, but we will not tolerate a language of arrogance spoken to us,” Pashinian stressed.
The head of the Armenian government called on the international community to issue ‘targeted’ statements condemning Azerbaijan’s aggression. “All talk about border disputes is absurd and meaningless. There is no border dispute. There is an act of aggression against Armenia’s sovereign territory,” he argued.
“We, the government and the people of the Republic of Armenia, are determined to defend our sovereignty, territorial integrity, statehood and independence with all available means. At the same time, we continue to underscore the need for a peaceful resolution of the situation,” Pashinian said, stressing that Yerevan remained committed to the terms of the Russia-brokered ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh signed by Armenia and Azerbaijan on November 9, 2020 and the further Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani statement of January 11, 2021 regarding the unblocking of regional transport links.
Armenia and Azerbaijan waged a 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh last year. The hostilities in which nearly 7,000 people were killed were halted due to a Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement that confirmed Azerbaijan’s territorial gains and brought about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to the areas of the region remaining under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces.
Unblocking of regional transport routes, which is part of the November 9, 2020 ceasefire agreement, appears to have been differently interpreted in Yerevan and Baku as Armenia has resisted providing Azerbaijan with an exterritorial corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave, while agreeing to general unblocking of all roads in the region.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Tuesday senior member of Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party Eduard Aghajanian claimed that Azerbaijan escalated the situation at the borders after failing in its policy to force Armenia to provide an exterritorial corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave.
Azerbaijan has denied committing any aggression against Armenia, insisting that the latest border escalation is a result of provocations and an attack by the Armenian side.
On Tuesday, Armenia appealed to Russia, its key military and political ally, for assistance in defending against Azerbaijan.
It was reported later today that Pashinian had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin said the current situation at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border was discussed during the phone call initiated by the Armenian side.
“The sides agreed to continue contacts regarding this issue,” the report said.
The Foreign Ministry of France, meanwhile, expressed concern over the border incidents between Armenia and Azerbaijan, urging the two sides to respect the ceasefire agreement.
In its turn, the Foreign Ministry of Iran called on the two sides to respect internationally recognized borders. Tehran also expressed readiness to help Armenia and Azerbaijan in the matter of resolving their differences.