Armenian PM says can’t reserve the right to negotiate on behalf of the people of Artsakh

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pahsinyan says he’s ready to negotiate with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, but feels obliged to seek to raise the effectiveness of the talks.

Negotiations on the Karabakh conflict settlement cannot be full-fledged and effective as long as one of the full parties to the conflict – the Republic of Artsakh – is not participating in the negotiations, the Prime Minister said as he presented the government program at the National Assembly.

He noted that the approach includes no novelty, and it is simply a “well-forgotten past.”

The fact that Artsakh is a full-fledged party to the talks was confirmed at the OSCE Budapest summit in 1994, the Prime Minister said and reminded that negotiations were being conducted in that format up until 1998.

After 1998 representatives of the Republic of Armenia started negotiating on behalf of Nagorno Karabakh as well. Nikol Pashinyan says whether the decision was correct or not, the authorities have had grounds to do so.

“Before coming to Armenia Robert Kocharyan was the elected President of Nagorno Karabakh, while Serzh Sargsyan was an organizer of Artsakh’s self-defense movement. Therefore, they could probably have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of Nagorno Karabakh, irrespective of how we see it. I cannot do the same. I cannot retain the right to hold negotiations on behalf of the people of Artsakh., because I have no legal, political or moral bases for it,” Nikol Pashinyan stated.

“The people of Nagorno Karabakh do not participate in elections in Armenia, do not participate in the formation of the authorities in Armenia. Instead, they have their own authorities, their National Assembly, Government and President and the people of Artsakh can only be represented by a legitimate delegate,” he said.

He noted that every time the issue of Artsakh’s participation in the negotiations comes to the agenda, Azerbaijan insists that representatives of the so-called Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh should participate as a separate party.

“This a false argument, because the political status of Azerbaijanis who once lived in Nagorno Karabakh has not changed as a result of the conflict. Both before and after the conflict they remain citizens of Azerbaijan, and continue to participate in elections taking place in Azerbaijan, including the presidential elections. This means the President of Azerbaijan participates in the negotiations on the basis of a mandate granted by those people, i.e. they are already involved in the negotiations in the face of the incumbent President,” Pashinyan added.

The Prime Minister reiterated the readiness to negotiate with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev within the framework of the OSCe misnk Group co-chairmanship, but feels obliged to do his best to raise the effectiveness of the talks “if we are negotiating to reach a solution rather than for the sake of negotiating.”

Nikol Pashinyan stressed the importance of implementing past agreements, because, he said, it will be inconvenient to negotiate new agreements, if the previous ones have not been called to life.

Nevertheless, he said “we’ll stick to a constructive approach in the negotiation process on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, thus contributing to the reinforcement of stability and security in the region and the world.”

He stressed that there is no military solution to the Karabakh conflict, but underlined that any adventurism on the part of the rival will face a “crushing” response of the Armenian Armed Forces and the entire nation.

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