Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian reaffirmed earlier this month his readiness to sign a deal that would commit Armenia and Azerbaijan to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity. Critics say that this would amount to Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.
Pashinian said ahead of his October 6 talks with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev 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.
A Karabakh delegation headed by President Arayik Harutiunian met last week with Pashinian, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and other senior Armenian officials.
Harutiunian called for continued “coordinated work with Armenia” when he held a cabinet meeting in Stepanakert on Tuesday. He went on to meet with members of the Karabakh parliament to brief them on his talks in Yerevan and answer their questions.
According to a statement released by his office, Harutiunian said the Karabakh leadership will continue to seek international recognition of Karabakh’s right to self-determination and secession from Azerbaijan.
Davit Galstian, a Karabakh opposition lawmaker, said on Wednesday that the meeting with Harutiunian only reinforced his belief that Pashinian’s administration has “washed its hands of Artsakh.”
“They say the Armenian authorities promised that they will do everything to have the peace treaty refer to Artsakh’s self-determination but said that if they do not manage to do that they will still go down that path because [the treaty] would save Armenia,” Galstian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Armenia’s main opposition groups have criticized Pashinian in even stronger terms, saying that he is planning to help Baku restore full control over Karabakh.
“The neighboring enemy states [Azerbaijan and Turkey] do not want peace,” Ishkhan Saghatelian, a leading member of the opposition Hayastan alliance, said on Wednesday. “They want Armenia’s destruction. They want Artsakh to be part of Azerbaijan, and that is not peace.”
“Nikol Pashinian has no popular mandate to lead the country to a new capitulation,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Saghatelian said that Hayastan and its opposition allies “will do everything” to prevent the planned peace deal with Baku. He shed no light on upcoming opposition actions. He did not exclude renewed antigovernment protests in Yerevan.
“We will talk about our steps and actions soon,” added the outspoken oppositionist.
Pashinian already sparked weeks of antigovernment protests in May after declaring that the international community is pressing Armenia to “lower the bar” on Karabakh’s future status and signaling his readiness to do that.