YEREVAN — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan slammed Azerbaijan and Turkey at a Monday evening press conference for the lack of forward movement in ongoing efforts to normalize relations, adding that Azerbaijan is “trying to build up legitimacy for a new war” by placing blame on Armenia instead.
Asked whether the peace agenda in today’s geopolitical realities has a real alternative in relations with Azerbaijan and even Turkey, Pashinyan gave a negative answer.
“The peace agenda has no alternative today, had no alternative yesterday and will have no alternative tomorrow, and we have been doing and will continue to do our best to open an era of peace for the Republic of Armenia and the region,” the Prime Minister said.
He added that the Azerbaijani side refused to participate in the meeting on the level of the Secretary of Armenian Security Council and the Adviser to the President of Azerbaijan which was scheduled in Brussels today.
“We have no illusions about Azerbaijan’s goals and intentions,” the Prime Minister said, noting that promoting the agenda of peace is an issue of principle for the Armenian authorities.
“I have said on many occasions that on this path we need strong nerves, balanced approach and maximal soberness,” he added.
Pashinyan added that Azerbaijan had broken promises to return Armenian prisoners of war still held in the country, turned down an Armenian proposal to set up a meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers, and refused to consider a draft plan to reopen a regional railroad.
The Armenian prime minister also condemned Turkey’s apparent insistence that any normalization deal be linked to a similar agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, calling Ankara’s stance “not useful.”
“The Turkish side often makes statements that are not very useful for the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. The “Zangezur Corridor” formulation coming from Turkey also hinders the process, but the Armenian side sees an opportunity to normalize relations and is sincerely willing to do everything in that direction”, The Prime Minister stated.
Touching upon the question whether there are opportunities for the final normalization of relations with Turkey, the Prime Minister answered. “If I say now that there is no opportunity, the question will arise as to why we are negotiating. If we negotiate, it means that there is at least a certain understanding that it is possible to do it, it is possible to move forward step by step, in small steps. We often say that the dialogue is not effective, it has not yielded results yet, but on the other hand we see that direct flights, for example, have been restored. But on the other hand, we understand that in the past there were direct flights from Yerevan to Istanbul, from Istanbul to Yerevan. And now we are trying to move forward in small steps.”