On Friday (24 December), the prime minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, conducted an interview in which he discussed, among other things, the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the process of negotiations for a peace treaty with Azerbaijan.
When asked about the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, Express.am report Pashinyan as stating that the region had never been considered in the negotiating process as purely Armenian, in part because “it is recorded in the negotiations - that Azeris also lived in the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region. The protection of their rights was the subject of negotiations”.
He also reportedly noted that because the UN Security Council had recognised Nagorno-Karabakh as a territory of Azerbaijan, the decision on its status should be made in accordance with the Constitution of Azerbaijan.
The comments drew criticism from many within the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, including from its self-styled president, Arayik Harutyunyan, who stated that “the international recognition of the independence of Artsakh is our main reference point, and no government can afford to deviate from this line. Therefore, the people and authorities of Artsakh will never and in no way accept any status within Azerbaijan”.
The Armenian prime minister took to Facebook to defend his comments, arguing that the criticism was puzzling, for a number of reasons, including that he had been discussing the subject of negotiations which took place before he became prime minister, and which he could therefore not have had any influence on.
As part of the interview, Pashinyan also re-iterated his position that Armenia was in favour of launching talks and beginning negotiations for a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. He noted that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs had recently proposed a negotiation agenda, one of the points being the issue of a peaceful and comprehensive settlement, which Armenia "is interested in, and will not refuse to discuss". He added that it was logical and beneficial for the Armenian Government to want a full peace treaty and comprehensive solution.
The Armenian prime minister highlighted that what he called “propaganda” was being used to falsely create an image that the Armenian authorities were against demarcation and delimitation. “There is an impression that we are against the peace treaty and the comprehensive settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Of course, we are not against, of course, we are for, we are interested in it” he said. He further noted that Armenia wanted to open more communications, and that it would take steps in this direction.