The mechanism for safeguarding the rights and security of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh is still uncertain and so is the format of Stepanakert-Baku dialogue, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Thursday as four-day bilateral talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan were drawing to a close in Washington.
Speaking at the Prague Center for Transatlantic Relations on the first day of his two-day official visit to the Czech Republic, Pashinian said that so far it has been impossible to agree upon mechanisms for overcoming differences in the reading of the peace agreement text.
According to the Armenian leader, there is also no agreement on international mechanisms for implementing the peace agreement. “We do, however, continue our efforts in order to succeed in all these areas,” Pashinian emphasized.
One of the participants of the discussion asked Pashinian why Yerevan does not invoke “remedial secession” given Azerbaijan’s aggressive actions against Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
The Armenian government began to address this principle in public statements during the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh in September-November 2020 and it was also reflected in the election platform of Pashinian’s ruling Civil Contract party that regained its majority in the Armenian parliament in the following year’s snap elections.
The prime minister did not specifically talk about the principle of remedial secession in answering the question, but reaffirmed his previous statements that “Baku is preparing ethnic cleansings and the security and rights of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians should be addressed in negotiations that will take place between Baku and Stepanakert.” The Armenian leader admitted, however, that the administration of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has no desire for such dialogue.
“Not only do we expect this, but we have been working in this direction for more than 30 years. And we must redouble our efforts to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, to establish lasting peace in our region. We are committed to the peace agenda, because we have received a mandate for it from the Armenian people,” Pashinian said.
Earlier, speaking at a joint press conference with his Czech counterpart Petr Fiala, the Armenian prime minister urged the international community to give a “clear and targeted” assessment of the “humanitarian crisis” in Nagorno-Karabakh, claiming that Azerbaijan’s actions to cut the Armenian-populated region from Armenia amount to “preparations for ethnic cleansings.”
Pashinian’s remarks concerned a checkpoint that Azerbaijan installed on April 23 at the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.
Yerevan and Stepanakert believe that the roadblock is illegal as it contradicts the terms of a 2020 Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement under which control in the corridor is to be exercised only by Russian peacekeepers deployed in the region. Baku discards accusations from the Armenian side that it is blockading the region.
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement later on May 4, describing Pashinian’s statements in Prague as “absolutely unacceptable.”
One of the participants of the discussion at the Prague Center for Transatlantic Relations asked about Armenia’s relations with Russia. Pashinian said that there were factors complicating these relations and in that context mentioned Yerevan’s differences with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, stressing that the Moscow-led military alliance “has not fulfilled its obligations to Armenia.”
Pashinian ended the discussion with observations about a possible “unpredictable end” to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. He stressed that the situation is “completely unpredictable” and that there is no analytical structure that can predict what will happen in a month.
“I can only say with certainty that I am going to Moscow next week,” Pashinian said, without specifying the agenda of his upcoming visit.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that “certain plans” regarding a possible meeting between Pashinian and Russian President Vladimir Putin were being discussed.
It is not clear yet whether Pashinian’s visit to Moscow will also be connected with the military parade that Russia stages on Red Square every year on May 9 to mark victory in Europe in World War Two or the Great Patriotic War as it is more commonly referred to in Russia and other post-Soviet countries.