“Today the international community is clearly telling us that being the only country in the world that does not bilaterally recognize the territorial integrity to Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan is very dangerous for not only Artsakh (Karabakh) but also Armenia,” Pashinian told the Armenian parliament.
“Today the international community is again telling us, ‘Lower a bit your bar on the question of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status and we will ensure a great international consolidation around Armenia and Artsakh.’ Or else, says the international community, please do not pin your hopes on us. Not because we don’t want to help you but because we can’t help you,” he said in an hour-long speech.
Pashinian said he is therefore keen to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan “as soon as possible.” He reiterated that Baku’s proposals regarding such an accord, including a mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity, are acceptable to Yerevan. He again stated that a “clarification of the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh” must also be on the agenda of upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijani talks on the treaty.
Pashinian did not explicitly say whether his administration is also ready to formally recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh. He noted only that Yerevan will put the emphasis on “security guarantees for the Armenians of Karabakh and their rights and freedoms.”
Armenian opposition leaders were quick to strongly condemn the remarks. Ishkhan Saghatelian, a senior member of the main opposition Hayastan alliance, said Pashinian openly expressed his intention to place Karabakh back under Azerbaijani control.
“This means that we would finally lose Artsakh because Artsakh will be left without Armenians if we go down that path,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “This is absolutely unacceptable to us.”
Saghatelian said that regime change in Armenia is the only way to prevent such a scenario.
Hayastan and the other parliamentary opposition bloc, Pativ Unem, jointly rallied thousands of supporters in Yerevan on April 5 to warn the Armenian government against making far-reaching concessions to Baku. They signaled plans to stage more such protests in the coming weeks.
Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in Brussels on April 6 for talks hosted by Charles Michel, the European Union’s top official. Michel described the trilateral meeting as “productive,” saying that the two leaders agreed to “move rapidly” towards the peace deal.
Aliyev sounded satisfied with the Brussels talks when he addressed members of his government on Tuesday. He said it became clear to him that “Armenia is renouncing territorial claims” to Azerbaijan.
Aliyev also emphasized the fact that Michel’s written statement issued after the talks made no mention of the Karabakh conflict or the Armenian-populated territory itself.
The Azerbaijani president regularly says that his country’s victory in the 2020 war with Armenia put an end to the conflict. Armenian leaders disputed that claim until recently.
Pashinian on Wednesday did not specify whether the pressure on the Armenian side emanates only from the West or Russia as well.
Russia, the United States and France have for decades co-headed the OSCE Minsk Group tasked with brokering a Karabakh settlement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that Washington and Paris have stopped cooperating with Moscow on the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute because of the war in Ukraine. U.S. and French officials have not denied that.
Pashinian is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 19 during an official visit to Moscow.