YEREVAN — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday expressed hope that Armenia and Azerbaijan will finalize in the near future a bilateral peace treaty while again accusing Baku of trying to depopulate Nagorno-Karabakh through an ongoing transport blockade.
Speaking at a weekly session of his cabinet on February 15, Pashinyan said his country’s latest draft proposal had been forwarded to Azerbaijan and the OSCE Minsk Group, which is tasked with mediating talks between Baku and Yerevan. It includes a proposal for creating a demilitarized zone around Nagorno-Karabakh with international guarantees.
Pashinyan said he first voiced the idea of a demilitarized zone around Nagorno-Karabakh on October 31 in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
“The creation of a demilitarized zone around Nagorno-Karabakh with international guarantees has been proposed, as a result of which Nagorno-Karabakh may not need a defense army of that scale. This proposal is still valid, I think,” Pashinyan said.
“Obviously, this document should be acceptable to Azerbaijan as well, and we hope that it will be possible to build on some progress observed as a result of three rounds of negotiations,” he said during the weekly session of his cabinet.
As well as reaffirming his declared commitment to the Armenian-Azerbaijani treaty, Pashinyan condemned the continuing Azerbaijani blockade of the sole road connecting Karabakh to Armenia and the outside world. Baku has also been blocking Armenia’s supplies of electricity and natural gas to Karabakh, aggravating the humanitarian crisis there.
“Azerbaijan’s actions have one goal: to complete the policy of ethnic cleansing of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh,” charged Pashinyan.
Later on Thursday, Pashinyan flew to Munich to attend an annual international security conference that will open in the German city on Friday.
Pashinyan’s press office said he will hold “a number of bilateral meetings” with foreign leaders on the sidelines of the forum. The office declined to say whether Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is also scheduled to participate in the Munich Security Conference, will be among them.