YEREVAN — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian charged on Thursday that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is “preparing the ground for a genocide” against Karabakh Armenians.

In his remarks at the start of a weekly cabinet session the Armenian leader responded to statements by Aliyev made at an event in the Azeri-occupied Karabakh town of Shushi that he visited on November 8.

“Aliyev is not only threatening, but is already preparing the genocide of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pashinyan stated.

“Advancing the narrative about the withdrawal of peacekeepers without clear international guarantees for the security and rights of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians is not only a violation of the tripartite statements, but also a preparation for the genocide of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians,” he added.

Pashinyan called into question Aliyev’s interpretation of the provision in the 2020 ceasefire agreement concerning peacekeepers. He, in particular, highlighted the circumstance of the automatic extension of the peacekeeping mission foreseen by the agreement.

“This essentially means that the peacekeepers are stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh indefinitely until the issues related to the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are addressed and all security concerns are resolved,” Pashinyan said.

Responding to Aliyev’s demand to provide Azerbaijan with a land corridor to its western Nakhichevan exclave through Armenia. Pashinyan stressed that Armenia “has only one obligation, and that is to ensure a transport link between the western districts of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan” and that “no specific route was mentioned in any statement.”

Pashinyan stressed that Yerevan was ready to open three checkpoints for automobile traffic to and from Nakhichevan fulfills its obligations.

At the same time, he charged that by accusing Armenia of not fulfilling its obligations Aliyev is trying “to create fictitious grounds for closing the Lachin corridor, encircling the Artsakh [Karabakh] Armenians and committing genocide.”

“If Azerbaijan really wants peace and is ready for peace, let’s open those passport control points, let’s create an opportunity for people,” the Armenian premier said.

Pashinyan also countered that Armenia does not have to build any new roads under the 2020 agreement, stressing that point 9 of the document speaks about “construction of new transport links by consent of the parties.”

“The Republic of Armenia is ready to give its consent, but there is no agreement for one reason, and that is: Azerbaijan continues its aggressive rhetoric and actions contrary to the agreements that have been reached and statements that have been signed.”

Speaking about the restoration of the Yeraskh-Julfa-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz railway, the agreement on which was reached on December 14, 2021 in Brussels, Pashinian said that it was the president of Azerbaijan who broke the agreement.

“A few days later, Aliyev himself refused to sign the document confirming the agreement. I officially state that I am ready to sign the document confirming this agreement even today,” the Armenian prime minister said.

Azerbaijan’s actions reminds those of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, Pashinyan said in response to another Aliyev accusation that Armenia is pursuing an aggressive policy against the Muslim world, and said they have “explained” this to the Muslim countries.

“Our respect for the Islamic religion and civilization is unquestionable. The Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people have fraternal feelings and partnership relations with dozens of Islamic countries and peoples, while Azerbaijan, with its practices, reminds of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which discredit Islam,” the Prime Ministert Pashinyans aid in response.

He said Aliyev’s November 8th statements come to prove that the geopolitical ambitions of the Azerbaijani authorities continue to be a threat to the security and stability of the South Caucasus and the wider region.

He said Azerbaijan is trying to accuse Armenia and its government of not fulfilling the agreements and obligations, but the speech proves the opposite.

“At the same time, Aliyev’s statements were made in Washington on the day after the meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan through the mediation of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and discussions on a possible peace treaty, when the delegations of the parties had not even managed to return to their capitals,” Pashinyan said.

“With that infamous speech, the leadership of Azerbaijan grossly violated the written agreement on refraining from the use of force and the threat of use of force, enshrined in the tripartite statement adopted in Sochi on October 31. Contrary to Sochi’s statement of October 31 and Prague’s statement of October 6 this year, the leader of Azerbaijan speaks about his claims on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, with the obvious intention of terrorizing the civilian population,” the Prime Minister added.

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