The Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, who is in the State of Qatar, gave an interview to Al Jazeera on June 13, during which he touched upon the processes taking place in the South Caucasus, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenian-Turkish relations and other topics.
Question, Al Jazeera – Let me start with the agreement you signed with Azerbaijan, because of which you were subjected to strong pressures, so that the demonstrators even arrived at your house. How do you evaluate this agreement now?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – I think you mean the trilateral statement signed by me, the President of Russia and the President of Azerbaijan. With that statement, the ceasefire came into force, all military actions ended, I think at that time it was a step aimed at ending the violence in Nagorno Karabakh. I should mention that this statement does not address the Nagorno Karabakh issue, but it is necessary to address the Nagorno Karabakh issue, we hope that in the near future we will be able to address the Nagorno Karabakh issue.
Question, Al Jazeera – Interrupting the talk about Nagorno-Karabakh, I want to note that this particular issue assumes that there is a border demarcation commission between the two countries that will look into this matter. What is hindering its work so far?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – In fact, we have communication with Azerbaijan in several dimensions, You are right, we have recently formed a delimitation commission between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it is very important to continue that work. Only one meeting has taken place, but we already have an agreement that the second meeting will take place in the Russian capital Moscow, and the third meeting in Brussels. We hope that with the support of our international partners, and of course, due to direct work, we will be able to carry out the delimitation of our borders.
Question, Al Jazeera – What if this committee came to a decision that the entire territory of Nagorno-Karabakh will belong to Azerbaijan, what would be your position then?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – In fact, the Delimmitation Commission has nothing to do with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, because, as I said, we have different dimensions of communication with Azerbaijan, one of which is demarcation. It’s also very important to mention the issue of border security, which is also under the mandate of this commission, because we must maintain stability and security along the entire border.
The second dimension is the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There is another dimension, which is about the opening of regional, transport and economic communications. But, of course, the most urgent issue between Armenia and Azerbaija and for the regional peace is the issue of Nagorno Karabakh.
Question, Al Jazeera – Interrupting the talks about peace with Azerbaijan, and this is exactly what angers the opposition. Russia, which is the sponsor of this agreement or the statement as it was called, is considered to be involved in a conspiracy against Armenia, and rather stands by Azerbaijan.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – You know that Russia is Armenia’s strategic partner and ally, but Russia is also a very close country for Azerbaijan. And in this context, we see the role of Russats as the guarantor of a trilateral statement, which, as I mentioned, was signed between the three parties.
Question, Al Jazeera – Since you referred to this close relationship with Russia and the alliances that bind you with it, what is your position on the war on Ukraine launched by Russia?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – Of course, we are very concerned about the situation around Ukraine, but I think all the countries of the world are concerned, because what do we see now? We see the collapse of the international order, and no one knows what the next international order will be like, and of course, we support the solution of all problems through dialogue and peaceful means.
Question, Al Jazeera – Yes, you say all countries are interested and are following with interest, but you are a bit different, your economy is closely linked to Russia’s economy, how will this be reflected, especially as it is subject to strong Western sanctions?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – Of course, the situation is not pleasant for us in terms of economy. But to be honest, in the first quarter we registered 8.6% economic growth, we hope we will be able to maintain this dynamic. After the events in Ukraine, many people and businesses have moved from Russia to Armenia because we have a neutral economic zone, and both Armenia and Russia are members of the Eurasian Economic Union. In this situation we hope, I think, we will be able to manage this economic situation. But, of course, not only the economic situation in Russia has directly affected the economy of Armenia, but also the global economic tension related to, for example, food supply, inflation and many other factors. But at the moment the economic indicators of Armenia are quite positive.
Question, Al Jazeera – Referring to the figures on the Armenian economy, are you in a better position than others? Are you subjected to any pressure, whether from Moscow or from the West, towards alliances or special relations that bind you to Moscow?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – I will not deny that the situation of our country and government is quite sensitive, but we try to be a direct, honest and reliable partner for Russia, our European and Western partners, our neighbors. It is not so easy, but I think the leaders are designed for the situations we have now, it is our duty to manage this situation and maintain proper relations with our partners, not to betray anyone.
Question, Al Jazeera – Interrupting the conversation, if relations are appropriate with your partners, what about relations with Turkey? Armenia and Turkey announced the opening of a new page of relations. Where is the path of normalization between Ankara and Yerevan?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – We have started a dialogue through the special representatives of Armenia and Turkey. The dialogue itself is already very positive, but we hope to record tangible results.
Question, Al Jazeera – Interrupting the conversation, are you talking with Turkey about mutual visits?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – I cannot say that we have not registered any results yet, because after the start of the dialogue, we started direct flights between Armenia and Turkey, but this is something that we had before. I hope that we will be able to establish diplomatic relations, open the border between Armenia and Turkey, which has been closed for 30 years.
Question, Al Jazeera – What is Armenia’s approach and stance towards the corridor that is supposed to link Azerbaijan and Ankara through your lands?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – You know, the wording, the narrative about the so-called corridor is unacceptable for us, it is a red line for us, because in our region, according to the trilateral statement I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, we have one corridor, it is the Lachin corridor that connects Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia. But we have another provision in our trilateral statement, which is about opening communications. I mean railways, roads, and we are ready, in fact we are already discussing the issue of opening regional communications based on the principle of mutual respect for sovereignty and the inviolability of borders.
Question, Al Jazeera – You speak in a very positive language, while Armenia’s relationship with neighboring countries is generally bad with the exception of Iran, and some are actually surprised that Iran, the Islamic Republic, stood by you in the face of Azerbaijan, the Muslim country? How do you explain this situation?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – We have four neighbors, we have very good relations with two of them, I mean Georgia and Iran. Iran is a friendly country for us, which also has good relations with Azerbaijan, we do not intend not to have good relations with countries that have good relations with Azerbaijan. But now we have very close ties with Iran, by the way, we hope that by cooperating with Iran we will be able to expand our bilateral relations with Qatar as well. We are now working to develop communications between Iran and Armenia, and we are currently in the process of constructing a very strategic highway called North-South, which connects our border with Georgia to the border with Iran. We hope that as a result of this program, our economic relations with Iran will develop. By the way, the Eurasian Economic Union, I have already said that Armenia is a member of it, has a free trade agreement with Iran, which is very important in the context of our bilateral relations.
Question, Al Jazeera – Let me to conclude this meeting with a question about your tour in the Arab region, what is your expectation from the Arabs?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – I should mention that there is a very warm attitude towards the Arab world in Armenia, because we have traditional relations. Now I hope for the growth of bilateral trade between Armenia and Qatar, because there is a very positive political environment in our bilateral relations with this wonderful country.
Al Jazeera – Thank you for the interview.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – Thank you.