YEREVAN — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan lambasted Nagorno-Karabakh’s exiled leaders taking refuge in Armenia, for continuing to present themselves as a government in exile and threatened to crack down on them on Thursday.

Opening a weekly session of his cabinet, Pashinyan stressed for three times that “there can be no government in Armenia apart from the government of Armenia.”

“I cannot but note that certain circles of people displaced from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) are voluntarily or involuntarily taking steps that pose a threat to Armenia’s national security. They proclaim some governments in exile and so on. I want to say clearly that there is one government in Armenia, and this government is sitting in this hall,” Pashinyan said at a government session on Thursday.

“If somebody in Armenia identifies themselves as a government [in exile,] then it’s a national security problem for Armenia,” he said. “I hope that the existence of that problem will not mean that our [security] bodies have underperformed in their work.”

Pashinyan said on Thursday that Armenian security services should be prepared to take “appropriated measures” to also prevent “some circles forcibly displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh” from being used by unnamed “external forces.” He did not elaborate.

The warning was clearly addressed to Samvel Shahramanyan, the last president of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). In an interview with France’s Le Figaro daily published on Wednesday, Shahramanyan said that all NKR’s bodies continue to formally operate after fleeing Karabakh along with the region’s entire ethnic Armenian population last September.

“This building where I am receiving you houses the presidential, legislative and judicial offices of Artsakh,” he said. “Lawmakers can meet here to vote.”

Shahramanyan also reiterated that his September 28 decree liquidating the NKR is not valid. He said that he had to sign the decree in order to enable the Karabakh Armenians to safely flee to Armenia amid an Azerbaijani military offensive.

 

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