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Armenian, Karabakh Leaders Differ On Peace Deal With Azerbaijan


Armenia - Parliament speaker Alen Simonian (right) meets with Karabakh President Arayik Harutiunian and members of his delegation, Yerevan, October 14, 2022.

Senior Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh officials exposed their differences on Armenia’s planned peace treaty with Azerbaijan after meeting in Yerevan on Friday.

A delegation headed by Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, met with Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian during a visit aimed at clarifying the implications of the Armenian government’s readiness to sign such an accord.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and key members of his political team have said that the deal will commit Armenia and Azerbaijan to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity. Karabakh’s leadership is worried that Pashinian will thus recognize Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan.

Speaking after the meeting with Simonian, the Karabakh foreign minister, Davit Babayan, said the peace accord must specify that the mutual recognition of borders does not apply to Karabakh.

“There must be a special point saying that this issue [of Karabakh’s status] will be discussed later on,” he said, adding that this idea is also proposed by unspecified “various countries.”

“We must make clear that Artsakh (Karabakh) will never be a part of Azerbaijan,” Babayan went on. “It is very important for us to see this philosophy spelled out through that point and policy.”

Simonian, who is also a leading member of Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party, rejected the idea.

“I don’t think that there should be such reference in the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan because it could cause reciprocal demands and desires [from Azerbaijan,]” he told reporters. “Besides, Armenia has never had territorial claims to Azerbaijan, and an emphasis on territories would complicate and possibly even thwart the signing of the treaty.”

Pashinian has said in this regard that Azerbaijan and the Karabakh Armenians should negotiate on the Armenian-populated territory’s status. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly ruled out agreeing to any such status.

Armenia’s leading opposition groups have condemned Pashinian’s stance, saying that he is helping Baku restore full control over Karabakh in hopes of clinging to power.

Pashinian held a tete-a-tete meeting with Harutiunian on Wednesday. The Armenian government’s press service pointedly declined to release an official statement on the meeting

Babayan expressed confidence that the prime minister will receive the entire Karabakh delegation as well.

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