YEREVAN — The latest statements coming out of Azerbaijan are a serious blow to the peace process, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Saturday.

Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of undermining prospects for an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord with effective territorial claims to Armenia.

In a weekend speech, Pashinyan pointed to Baku’s continuing reluctance to recognize his country’s borders certified by Soviet maps and renewed demands for an extraterritorial corridor to the Nakhichevan exclave that would pass through a strategic Armenian region.

“I consider recent statements from Baku to be a serious blow to the peace process. The first impression is that … Azerbaijan is trying to generate territorial claims against Armenia, which is unacceptable,” he told members of his Civil Contract party at a meeting held in the eastern town of Gavar.

“On the one hand, Azerbaijan says it will strengthen its armed forces questioning Armenia’s territorial integrity, while on the other hand it is unhappy that Armenia buys weapons from France.  Does Azerbaijan think that Armenia should not have an army,’ Pashinyan said at the meeting.

He said if this is the perception, it means that Azerbaijan is questioning the right of the Republic of Armenia to exist, ‘which is absolutely unacceptable’.

‘Any country has the right to maintain an army. But, of course, it is clear that we have to put all this in the context of regional security,” Pashinyan said.

According to him, Armenia may be concerned about Azerbaijan’s armaments, and Azerbaijan may be concerned about Armenia’s armaments.

“We propose to sign a peace treaty in such a way that war becomes impossible. However, Azerbaijan’s proposals give the impression that an attempt is made to draft a document that would legitimize new wars. This is beyond logic. That is why we propose to withdraw troops from the border areas to neutralize the threat of clashes. We propose to demilitarize the border areas. But Azerbaijan rejects it,” Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan noted that at least for the moment, Armenia and Azerbaijan are speaking different diplomatic languages.

“There is no denying that both in Armenia and Azerbaijan and beyond there are and will be forces that are not interested in peace, but what matters here are the positions of the leaders of the states and the theses voiced by them,” Pashinyan emphasized.

Earlier this month Baku renewed its demands for the so-called “Zangezur corridor.” Aliyev insisted that people and cargo transported to and from Nakhichevan through Armenia’s Syunik province must be exempt from Armenian border checks. Another senior Azerbaijani official said on January 5 that Armenia has an “obligation” to do so under the terms of the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

Pashinyan countered that it contains no provisions calling for an extraterritorial corridor to Nakhichevan. He also charged that Azerbaijan and Russia effectively scrapped the truce accord with Baku’s September 19-20 military offensive in Karabakh that restored Azerbaijani control over the region and forced its population to flee to Armenia.

“There is no way that document can no longer be valid for two parties [that signed it] but continue to be valid for the third party,” he said.

 

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