PARIS — NKR President Arayik Harutyunyan said late on Wednesday that he is seeking “more fundamental international guarantees” because the five-year mandate of 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in Karabakh expires in 2025.

“Today the fate of the Artsakh Armenians is in danger,” Harutyunyan told the France 24 TV channel during a visit to Paris.

“Genocide? Ethnic cleansing? There is no difference for us because we would have to leave Artsakh. For us, that is tantamount to dying. We have lived on our land for millennia and we want to continue living there,” he said.

Respect for the right to self-determination and recognition of independence are the only effective guarantees for the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, President bHarutyunyan said in the intervie.

Davit Babayan, the Karabakh foreign minister accompanying Harutiunian on the trip, clarified that the authorities in Stepanakert want the UN Security Council to give the Russian peacekeepers an indefinite international mandate.

“The best variant is that the UN Security Council … authorizes the deployment of the Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh not only until 2025 but also for an indefinite period,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Thursday.

During his visit to France, Harutyunyan met with French lawmakers and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

The Karabakh leader began the trip on Monday five days after France’s lower house of parliament adopted a resolutions accusing Azerbaijan of military aggression against Armenia and urging Paris to consider imposing sanctions on Baku. The French Senate passed a similar resolution on November 15.

“This is my first visit to Europe, I decided to start from France, because the French political field and public opinion are very active and united regarding the Artsakh issue. We hope that France will not be limited to this, and that support will be exemplary for other states. They will also be involved in the effective settlement of our problem, which France is paving the way for,” Harutyunyan said.

Responding to the journalist’s question whether Armenia will be in danger if Artsakh does not exist. Harutyunyan stated. “Undoubtedly, Azerbaijan and Turkey do not hide their plans regarding Syunik and claim the entire territory of Armenia under the pretext of the Zangezur Corridor. We realize that today it is not only about Artsakh, but the entire Republic of Armenia is at risk, the entire Armenian people, and the September developments, when the Azerbaijani troops invaded the territory of the Republic of Armenia, are a clear proof of this.”

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