Pashinyan conducts interview; discusses border clashes, CSTO, normalisation of relations with Turkey

The prime minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, conducted an online press conference yesterday (23 November), in which he addressed a variety of issues, including his views on the 3+3 format, the CSTO, and the detainment of Armenian servicemen by Azerbaijan. 

Asked about the recent border incidents with Azerbaijan, the Armenian PM reportedly said that "Azerbaijan pursues an aggressive policy. Azerbaijan has always pursued an aggressive policy, our task is to stop Azerbaijan's aggressive policy by using all international levers. By and large, nothing has changed in Azerbaijan's policy in the last 15 years, and it has become more aggressive after the war. We must use Azerbaijan's aggression against itself". “Yes, we severely criticize Azerbaijan in this situation, but this does not mean we are seeking escalation” he said, highlighting that Armenia would not miss an opportunity to speak with Azerbaijan directly.

On the “corridor issue”, the Armenian PM is reported as saying that “Azerbaijan is apparently laying territorial claims on Armenia. What does 'Zangezur corridor' mean? What does 'Eastern Zangezur' mean? Who has coined these terms and what does this mean? What does the 'corridor logic' mean? We have declared on many occasions and reiterate that we are not going to discuss any issue within that logic”. However, he noted that this did not mean Armenia was not ready to begin the opening of regional communications. 

Asked about the CSTO, and rumours that Armenia could leave the organisation, Armenpress report Pashinyan as saying that “I do not think that Armenia will consider leaving the CSTO, since I want to emphasize that the CSTO is not only a multilateral platform, but also a very strong channel and platform of our strategic relations with Russia. As a presiding country, we must work for the CSTO to play a proper role in ensuring security in our region”. 

On the role of Russia as an ally for Armenia, he reportedly noted that the Russian Federation "is the strategic partner of the Republic of Armenia and that partnership is invaluable. I want to emphasize that I highly appreciate the role of the Russian Federation in ensuring Armenia's security. I highly appreciate the activities of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno Karabakh. We must state that Russia, being a strategic ally of Armenia, is not an enemy of Azerbaijan, but a friend and ally”. 

Discussing the two upcoming meetings with Aliyev, however, he reportedly stated that “Armenia will not limit itself to various international instances and circles. An attempt is made to oppose the meetings in Brussels and Sochi. There is no contradiction between them, because we cannot refuse the offer of any partner”. He added that he will discuss humanitarian issues, including the issue of Armenian servicemen detained by Azerbaijan during the December 15 meeting in Brussels with his Azerbaijani counterpart. 

On the possibility of a 3+3 format, Armenpress report him as saying that it was extremely important that issues that were being already discussed in other platforms should not be discussed in the 3+3. "Is it possible to formulate such issues? We will live to see" he reportedly said.

During the border skirmishes last week, the Armenian Ministry of Defence announced that the whereabouts of 24 of its servicemen was still unknown. While he emphasised that this information was unverified, Pashinyan reportedly said that they may have been captured and taken prisoner by the Azerbaijani side.

Finally, on the topic of the normalisation of relations with Turkey, Armenpress report him as re-emphasising that Armenia was ready to establish relations, on the condition that the issue of “corridor” was not discussed. He also stated that he wanted Turkey and Azerbaijan “to answer very clearly – not in words, but in deeds – whether they want to annihilate the Armenian people, whether they want to destroy the Armenian statehood, whether they want to continue the policy of genocide. If yes, what choice do we have, except for resistance? If not, then they are right – there is a historic opportunity to establish peace and stability in this region”.

source: with Armenpress and agencies
photo: Nikol Pashinyan conducting an online press conference on 24 November; Office of the prime minister of Armenia