Both Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev have given interviews to euronews, published on Tuesday (1 August). Full transcripts of the interviews were published on the Armenian and Azerbaijani outlets, armenpress and APA, respectively, and summaries follow below.
On to what he attributes the "constant hostility" between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said:
"Unfortunately, many provisions [of the 9/10 November Trilateral Declaration] are regularly violated by Azerbaijan", saying that Baku continues to violate paragraphs 7 and 8. These concern the return of refugees and internally displaced persons to Nagorno-Karabakh, and the exchange of detainees and prisoners of wars.
Pashinyan also said that the Lachin Corridor "must be under the control of Russian peacekeepers", but is currently "illegally blocked by Azerbaijan."
On the prospects for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, PM Pashinyan said:
"Not only there can, but also must be peace. This is my belief, my position, this is what I believe in. But for this to happen, it is also very important for the international community to be aware of important nuances, to be clear why there isn’t progress at a sufficient pace."
Pashinyan added that he has on multiple occasions committed to recognising the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan's 86,600 sq km, but added that "up to this point the President of Azerbaijan has not publicly confirmed that agreement [to mutually recognise each other's territorial integrity]. He has not denied it either, but this is a subtlety that creates a certain lack of trust."
"We also have an understanding that there should be a dialogue between Baku and Stepanakert, the capital and main city of Nagorno-Karabakh, about the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh in the framework of an international mechanism," Pashinyan said. "And this dialogue has not taken place so far either. But we need to follow up for this, we need to work for this, nobody promised that it was going to be easy to reach peace."
On European Union mediation, PM Pashinyan said:
"The advantages of mediation have long been known to everyone, but all mediations come with certain shortcomings, they all have shortcomings, and each mediation has its peculiar shortcoming."
"The problem we see and it has been a continuous problem [with EU mediation] is that around the table we reach a certain understanding, and we do this in the presence of the President of the European Council. And if one of the sides does not address, fulfill that agreement, this is not followed even by specific assessments."
"I assume that the effective mediation is when the failure to fulfill an agreement would be followed by at least a show of political attitude towards the one that fails to fulfill that commitment. In the Brussels platform we are not seeing this, I keep raising this issue."
On geopolitical competition in the mediation process, PM Pashinyan said that they have witnessed scenes of "geopolitical jealousy" in the past.
"But I am glad to say that now the emphasis seems to have changed somewhat, and that change is that we hear from different sides statements that any platform that is going to be favorable for the peace process, they would welcome such platforms. And this is very important," he added.
On Russia's influence in the region, PM Pashinyan said:
"By virtue of the events in Ukraine, the interest of not just Russia, but also other geopolitical actors towards our region has been declining, because in practice the whole international attention is focused on Ukraine. And that is a factor."
He added that "but Russia is present in our region, in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the Republic of Armenia, but the EU is also present."
On the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, PM Pashinyan said:
"No food is being supplied to Nagorno Karabakh. There is no external supply of food. A number of essential commodities are not being supplied, baby food is not supplied, medication is not available, no hygiene supplies, no other essential goods are there, natural gas supply to Nagorno Karabakh was interrupted by Azerbaijan, electricity supply to Nagorno Karabakh was interrupted by Azerbaijan, the supply of fuel was interrupted by Azerbaijan. So in this sense, there is a real threat of hunger, we are facing there as well as health problems."
When countered with Azerbaijan's proposal to supply Nagorno-Karabakh via Aghdam, PM Pashinyan said that the 9/10 November Trilateral Declaration which provides for the supply of Nagorno-Karabakh via the Lachin Corridor "has the status of an international document", should be "under the control of the Russian peacekeepers [...] must be out of Azerbaijan’s control and it must ensure a link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia."
"It may sound absurd, but the road from the moon to Nagorno-Karabakh is open too, but I cannot refer to institutions unknown to me," Pashinyan said. "I am speaking about what is documented. And that road is now closed, if anyone doubts, he can right now take a trip and try to reach Nagorno-Karabakh."
Pashinyan then detailed at length the various implications and consequences of the Lachin Corridor's closure, the full transcript of which can be found on armenpress.
On whether peace can be built by politicians or society, Pashinyan said:
"Politicians really create, they generate the public mood, but they also bear the public mood, and they influence the public mood, and they are influenced by public mood. This is a very complex system."
"Regarding the war logic, we should never forget, conditionally speaking, the factor of the first bloodshed, because whenever there is bloodshed, there is a victim, there is a casualty, this is a profound social-psychological, political and public moment. That’s very hard for both the public and the politicians. In the reality there is no such division."
"I reiterate, politicians do influence the public mood, but they are also influenced the public mood. So it’s very hard sometimes to opt for solutions, concessions and decision which profoundly might mean that those who dies in the past, dies for no reason. That’s a problem everywhere," Pashinyan said.
"It’s very hard to explain to people that you know your son or your brother died for the future peace. How can you explain to someone that you can die for peace, if peace is our whole purpose?"
On whether he has a message to the political leaders, politicians and people of Azerbaijan, PM Pashinyan said:
"Everything I said is also addressed to the people of Azerbaijan."
Pashinyan concluded the interview by saying, "there is perhaps something which I would address to the public of Armenia and the public of Azerbaijan, because the publics of Armenia and Azerbaijan both must demand peace from their governments, it should be defined as a public demand and also peace, flexibility and skill to meet that demand."
On to what he attributes the "constant hostility" between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that it was "difficult to say".
"I thought that after the Second Karabakh War the situation will be different. We were ready for peace and actually waiting for a while for international players to give us some new suggestions [...] And the situation, when we had the declaration signed on the 10th November 2020, was not actually providing sustainable peace. It wasn't a peace treaty. It was a declaration."
"Therefore, we started to put forward some initiatives in order to find the final solution to our conflicts with Armenia. We made it public and announced that we need to sign a peace agreement. And then again, it was vague. So then, we elaborated the principles for peace agreement, which are very well-known principles of international law like mutual recognition of territorial integrity, sovereignty, international borders, delimitation of borders, non-use of force or threat of force."
"We put that proposal on the table. So, we are the country, which suffered 30 years of occupation, and restored justice by force, we were the authors of a new peace process. I would not say it is going very smoothly, but we are still optimistic."
On the latest round of negotiations with EU mediation, President Aliyev said:
"These meetings actually allow us to touch upon very sensitive issues [...] like future parameters of the boundaries, because the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan has not been defined."
"How will the border look like? What will be the real situation on the ground? What will be the situation with the communications?"
"Our meetings just create, I think, a good atmosphere. But if we see a constructive approach from Armenian side, and most important if they totally put down all their aspirations to contest our territorial integrity then we can find the peace solution very soon, maybe even by the end of the year."
On what the EU brings to the negotiating table, President Aliyev said:
"Our relations with the EU are based on mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual interest. So, this initiative now is transforming into a very active format of dialogue, because we meet not only in Brussels, we also meet, for instance, on the sidelines of the European Political Community."
"Last time it was in Chișinău. I think it's important, because we do not allow a situation to stagnate. Because if it is stagnation, if it's again kind of a break with them, then we are not guaranteed from any dangerous scenario."
On geopolitical competition in the mediation process, President Aliyev said:
"After the Russian-Ukrainian war situation has changed. We started to see that the United States and Europe became more active. It's not actually a big difference for us, who will lead the process or who will, to a certain degree, monopolise the negotiation process. It is important to come to the result. Whichever actor can produce initiatives that will lead to peace agreement, we will support it."
President Aliyev added, "it's important for us to come to an agreement and to have a result. Of course, we understand the certain geopolitical rivalries, some attempts of some players to be more active. We can only appreciate if there's a healthy rivalry, which will lead only to good results."
On Russia's influence in the region, President Aliyev said:
"It's difficult for me to say about the region, because the region of the Southern Caucasus consists of three countries. We can only observe Russia's interaction with our neighbors in the Southern Caucasus. But as far as Azerbaijan is concerned, not many things have changed, because our relations with Russia were already balanced."
"They were based on recognition of each other's national interests and of course, territorial integrity and sovereignty. Russia is a neighbor to Azerbaijan and a partner as we have a kind of substantial trade turnover, a lot of projects related to transportation infrastructure, especially now, at this moment."
On Azerbaijan's recent energy deals with the West, President Aliyev said:
"It's already for more than two years Azerbaijan became an important gas supplier to Europe. Of course, the situation with sanctions on Russia created a new dimension, because our energy resources now are needed more than before. But whatever we do, we do it based on the plans and contracts, which have been signed many years ago."
On current events on the Lachin Corridor, President Aliyev said:
“For more than two years since the Second Karabakh War ended, the so-called Lachin corridor functioned. It functioned during the times of occupation with one difference. It was under control of the Russian peacekeepers, which was part of the trilateral declaration. There was no disruption and there were no steps from our side to interfere. In the meantime, the situation on the ground was changing.”
"The reason why representatives of civil society of Azerbaijan to a certain degree started to control the corridor was because of the fact that illegal excavation of natural resources in Karabakh restarted in the beginning of November last year. Because after the war, it was stopped because it is illegal. These resources belong to us."
"We were denied the right for access, and that is how our civil society representatives started to control it. But again, the road was not closed. It was absolutely free, and the movement was free."
Commenting on allegations that the Red Cross has been complicit in smuggling from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, President Aliyev said that "we asked from the Red Cross to stop it and also asked them to work with us more constructively. Unfortunately, until today, their office in Karabakh has been subordinated not to Baku office, but to Yerevan offices. This is not acceptable."
On what he sees as his "mission", President Aliyev said:
"Well, to win a war was a mission of my life, of my political life, which ended successfully. So, we won the war, despite many factors, political, despite factors of long-lasting infrastructure projects on the occupied territories, which made it very difficult for our military servicemen to break several defense lines."
"We restored justice, and we restored our territorial integrity. We fought on our land. We didn't fight on the Armenian land and we won. So, that was mission number one, which is over. Now we talk about peace for a country, which suffered thirty years of occupation because its territory, which was under occupation, is totally ruined."
On whether he has a message to the political leaders, politicians and people of Armenia, President Aliyev said:
"First, if they listen to what I say, message to Armenians in Armenia that we want to have peace with their state, we don't have territorial claims to Armenia though hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis lived in Armenia before the war were totally ethnically cleansed, and their cultural and religious heritage was totally destroyed. Nevertheless, we don't have any territorial claims."
"When we say that we want peace, it's not because we are weak and we are seeking peace. No, they know that we are much stronger. It’s because we want this black page of our history to be turned down. We don't want another war either today or ever in the future."
"So for the Armenian community, I think they should not oppose peace initiatives of the international community. They should understand that if they don't sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan, the situation in the future will be unpredictable. Geopolitical situation in the world and in the region is changing as we see very dramatically. And part of their hopes for their security vanished completely."
"Now they're looking for new security guarantors. Who is ready to have a standoff with Azerbaijan on the battlefield in this area, especially after what we demonstrated during the war and after we increased our defense capability after the war? Is there anyone ready to fight for Armenians against us? I doubt it."
To the Armenian government, President Aliyev said, "for them the choice is not the best and the very best. For them the choice is among very bad and acceptable, but acceptable based on common sense, on international law, and on recognizing the rights of Azerbaijanis to live on their own land, which they deprived us for 30 years."
"And Armenians in Karabakh should not follow their so-called leaders [...] They should not become a hostage of today's clique, which captured power in Karabakh, and whose main objective is to provide for their own interest."