Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, said late on Wednesday that he is seeking “more fundamental international guarantees” because the five-year mandate of 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in Karabakh expires in 2025.
“Today the fate of the Artsakh Armenians is in danger,” Harutiunian told the France 24 TV channel during a visit to Paris.
“Genocide? Ethnic cleansing? There is no difference for us because we would have to leave Artsakh. For us, that is tantamount to dying. We have lived on our land for millennia and we want to continue living there,” he said.
Davit Babayan, the Karabakh foreign minister accompanying Harutiunian on the trip, clarified that the authorities in Stepanakert want the UN Security Council to give the Russian peacekeepers an indefinite international mandate.
“The best variant is that the UN Security Council … authorizes the deployment of the Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh not only until 2025 but also for an indefinite period,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Thursday.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said last month during this October 31 meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi he proposed that Yerevan and Baku already extend the peacekeepers’ presence. He said Aliyev rejected the proposal.
Azerbaijani officials regularly emphasize that the Russian troops are stationed in Karabakh on a temporary basis. Baku has been trying to regain full control over the territory.
During his unofficial visit to France, Harutiunian met with French lawmakers and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
The Karabakh leader began the trip on Monday five days after France’s lower house of parliament adopted a resolutions accusing Azerbaijan of military aggression against Armenia and urging Paris to consider imposing sanctions on Baku. The French Senate passed a similar resolution on November 15. The Azerbaijani government strongly condemned the resolutions.