In a historic speech in front of parliament, Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday (13 April) analysed the options in front of Armenia as it prepares to enter into negotiations with Azerbaijan on the signing of a peace agreement.
In his speech Pashinyan spoke at length and in detail about the dilemmas he faced before the 44 day Karabakh war as to whether or not to make concessions and return territories to Azerbaijan. Pashinyan admitted that his mistake was not to recognise the inevitability of doing so, and to having, like previous Armenian leaders, succumbed to the Armenian narrative of the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh.
"I also feel infinitely guilty before God that I could not fulfill one of His greatest commandments - Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" Pashinyan said.
Referring to the trilateral meeting in Brussels on 6 April with president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and European Council president, Charles Michel, Pashinyan told MPs, "I have agreed that the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan should begin preparations for a peace treaty. What this means in practice, what schedule, what format, still needs to be discussed and decided. But signing a peace treaty with Azerbaijan as soon as possible is part of our plans. "
In his speech Pashinyan hinted that Armenia may now be ready to recognise the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan as had been requested by Azerbaijan as a precondition for starting the negotiations on a peace treaty. Pashinyan said
"We have operatively discussed these proposals and stated that there is nothing unacceptable in them for Armenia, especially since Armenia, de jure, recognized the territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of Azerbaijan by ratifying the Agreement on the Establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1992, and that recognition is still part of our domestic legislation.
We have stated that Armenia has never had territorial claims from Azerbaijan and the Karabakh issue is not a matter of territory but of rights. Therefore, we have stated that the security guarantees of the Armenians of Karabakh, the provision of their rights and freedoms and the clarification of the final status of Nagorno Karabakh are of fundamental importance for Armenia.
Therefore, with this a complement to the agenda, Armenia is ready for the start of peace talks, and this position was stated during the last meeting in Brussels. What is important to record in this situation? A very powerful nuance, that if in the past we placed the status of Karabakh in the basis, deriving security guarantees and rights from it, now we place security guarantees and rights in the basis, deriving status from it. In other words, we state that the status quo is not an end in itself, but a means to ensure the security and rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh."
You can read the full speech of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at the Armenian Parliament on 13 April 2022 on the website of the Armenian government here
The speech has already created considerable reaction in Armenia and in international circles.
EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, in a tweet described the speech of th Armenian prime minister as "forward looking". He added that "many challenges remain on the road to a comprehensive settlement but it is important to move forward". Klaar added that Armenia has the EU's support in the search for just peace.