‘No one can speak to us from positions of force,’ Pashinyan on NK conflict settlement

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 10, ARMENPRESS. Armenia is ready to negotiate with Azerbaijan over the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, but these negotiations must be true negotiations, and not an imitation of them, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an interview to the Russian newspaper Komersant.

“We are ready to truly make efforts in order for the conflict to be settled peacefully,” Pashinyan said, stressing that the Armenian side highly appreciates Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts aimed at the settlement of the issue.

Pashinyan emphasized that Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is afraid that the democratic processes which took place in Armenia might shift to his country too, therefore he is attempting to distract the attention of his citizens from domestic problems by escalating the situation in the NK line of contact.

“The situation in the line of contact is quite stable, however when we hear the military rhetoric of Azerbaijan it increases the level of tension in the relations. I hope that the leadership of Azerbaijan will change its conduct. Azerbaijan must know that it is impossible to speak to Armenia in the language of threats,” the Armenian Prime Minister said.

Pashinyan underscored that constructive negotiations cannot take place in case of the Azerbaijani military rhetoric and constant threats to wage war. “This requires to create an atmosphere of negotiations. We are ready to work over this. As far as the format is concerned, I am the Prime Minister of Armenia and I am ready to participate in the negotiations on behalf of the Republic of Armenia. I cannot speak on behalf of the people of Karabakh. The people of NK do not take part in the government formation processes of Armenia. They have their own authorities, government, president. Karabakh should be represented by someone legitimate, who has the mandate to represent the people. This doesn’t mean that we are refusing from negotiations, we are ready for it [negotiations] at any moment. However, Karabakh must be represented by a representative of Karabakh,” Pashinyan said.

The Armenian PM underscored that there is no sensational element in his statement, and that the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairing countries have also stressed in their statements that the final status of NK should be determined through the expression of will of the NK people. “Perhaps our negotiations have [stuck], because we don’t have a very accurate negotiations format. I mean the participation of Nagorno Karabakh. Of course we imagine the further negotiations process only within the OSCE Minsk Group format,” he said.

He added that it is impossible to solve the issue without compromises, however first of all Azerbaijan must be asked whether it is ready for compromise. “If Azerbaijan is ready for mutual concessions then we too are [ready]. If not, we too aren’t [ready]. The problem is that Azerbaijan is threatening with war every day, it says that Yerevan is an Azerbaijani city, and that the entire Armenian territory is an Azerbaijani territory. We simply refuse to speak about compromise in such an atmosphere. If we were to speak about compromises in the atmosphere of threats someone might perceive it as a weakness. We will never allow this. If Azerbaijan thinks that it can speak to us from positions of force, then we are saying that it is impossible. No one can speak to us this way,” he said.

Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan

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