Scholz called for a “peaceful settlement based on the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh citizens’ right to self-determination” after holding talks with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Thursday.
“These principles are equally applicable,” he told a joint news conference in Berlin.
“We welcome Olaf Scholz’s statement that the conflict should be settled peacefully on the basis of equal principles of [territorial] integrity & right to self-determination of the Nagorno-Karabakh people,” tweeted Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president. “Settlement is impossible without fully considering our fundamental/collective rights.”
Peace plans jointly drafted by the United States, Russia and France prior to the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war upheld the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination, which would be exercised through a referendum.
Successive Armenian governments for decades championed that principle in peace talks with Azerbaijan. Pashinian effectively stopped doing that a year ago. He and other senior Armenian officials have since spoken instead of the need to protect “the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Pashinian repeated that phrase and did not comment on Scholz’s remark when he addressed the German Council on Foreign Relations, a Berlin-based think-tank, after his talks with the chancellor. He again called for an “international mechanism” for discussions between Baku and Stepanakert but shed little light on that negotiating format sought by Yerevan.
At the same time, Pashinian deplored the “growing aggressiveness of Azerbaijan towards Nagorno-Karabakh.” He accused Baku of seeking to subject Karabakh’s population to “ethnic cleansing,” citing the Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin corridor connecting the region to Armenia.
Karabakh’s leaders and main political groups have repeatedly criticized Pashinian over the past year. They were mostly recently irked by his January 10 claim that the international community has always regarded Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan and that the Armenian government must only deal with Armenia’s problems.
Pashinian’s political opponents in Armenia have been even more critical, accusing him of planning to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh. The Armenian opposition staged daily street protests in Yerevan for several consecutive weeks after the prime minister signaled in April 2022 his readiness to “lower the bar” on Karabakh’s future status.