PARIS — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan challenged Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to support his vision of a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement that would be considered acceptable by all parties to the conflict as he addressed the second Paris Peace Forum in the French capital on Tuesday.
On a number of occasions Pashinyan said that any solution to the protracted dispute must be acceptable to the peoples of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. “Aliev can list the people of Azerbaijan first,” the Armenian premier said.
In his remarks to the audience, Pashinyan dwelled on the history of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, stressing that Azerbaijan refuses to engage in direct negotiations with the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“At the same time, authorities in Baku insist that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan. This is odd. It means that they want territory without people. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh know that they will not have any guarantees of security within Azerbaijan,” he said.
Pashinyan said that when Aliyev acknowledges that any solution to the conflict must be acceptable to all peoples, including the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, “it will mean that we have a breakthrough in the whole negotiation process.”
After Pashinyan’s speech an Azerbaijani blogger, in particular, asked him about how his recent statement that “Nagorno-Karabakh is Armenia, period” helps the peace process.
To this Pashinyan referred to statement coming from official Baku that different parts of Armenia are Azerbaijani territory. “And they continue threatening to occupy not only Nagorno-Karabakh, but also Syunik and capital Yerevan. Why are we making similar statements? Because we don’t want to leave an impression of being a frightened nation. No one can talk to us from the position of force,” Pashinyan underscored.
The Armenian premier also took issue with the Azerbaijani blogger’s remark that Nagorno-Karabakh is an internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan.
“If Nagorno-Karabakh is an internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan, why are you negotiating for deciding the status of Nagorno-Karabakh? Isn’t that strange?” he said.
Earlier this week, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov spoke optimistically about the prospect of negotiations, noting “certain progress” in the peace process.
Asked by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) to comment on the statement, Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan on Tuesday said that no negotiations are currently held around a specific document.
“I wouldn’t want to comment on the enthusiasm, disappointment or optimism of Azerbaijan’s foreign minister regarding the peace process. I can only say that the peace process proceeds without ups and downs. I want to reaffirm that at present the parties do not conduct negotiations around any specific document,” Naghdalyan said.