Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian reaffirmed those plans late last week during talks in Prague with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and the European Union’s top official, Charles Michel.
In a statement issued afterwards, the EU said Baku and Yerevan “confirmed their commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and the Alma Ata 1991 Declaration [by former Soviet republics] through which both recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” It said nothing about Karabakh.
Pashinian said ahead of the talks that it will be up to Baku and the Karabakh Armenians to negotiate on the territory’s status. Karabakh’s leadership expressed serious concern over his stance. Armenia’s leading opposition groups criticized Pashinian in even stronger terms, saying that he is planning to help Baku restore full control over Karabakh.
A spokeswoman for Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, said over the weekend that a delegation headed by him will visit Yerevan to discuss the results of the Prague summit with Armenia’s leadership. Davit Babayan, the Karabakh foreign minister and a member of the delegation, on Monday declined to comment on the planned meetings.
The visit was announced amid demonstrations staged in Stepanakert by several hundred local residents. Their organizers demanded that Harutiunian shed light on Karabakh’s uncertain future.
Speaking in Prague, Aliyev again ruled out any status for Karabakh and described its ethnic Armenian residents as Azerbaijani citizens. He said the Karabakh Armenians should “reintegrate themselves into the Azerbaijani territory” or leave Karabakh.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Vahan Hunanian, insisted on Friday that “the Nagorno-Karabakh people’s rights and security” remain a top priority for Armenia.
“But Azerbaijan is not inclined to discuss that issue with Armenia,” Hunanian told the Armenpress news agency in written comments.
Nevertheless, he said, Yerevan keeps pressing for the creation of a “visible international mechanism” for direct contacts between Baku and the Karabakh Armenians.
Armenian opposition lawmakers dismissed these assurances on Monday, insisting that Pashinian’s administration is “washing its hands” of Karabakh.
“I don’t believe that there will be any real negotiation between the Artsakh authorities and Azerbaijan,” said Aghvan Vartanian of the Hayastan alliance.
“For decades, Armenia was the guarantor of Artsakh’s security … If it is renouncing [that role] now, why would Aliyev agree to protect the interests, rights and security of the Artsakh Armenians?” he told reporters.
Taguhi Tovmasian, a lawmaker representing the opposition Pativ Unem bloc, likewise said that Yerevan must continue to represent the Karabakh Armenians on the international stage.