War is the biggest threat to democracy, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at the 4th Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik, adding that “for a long time, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict served as an excuse for the lack of democracy in Armenia.”
“In 2018, our velvet revolution provided great democratic developments in Armenia, but in September 2020 Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh, and Armenia had to get involved in the war. Many still think that the cause of the war was Armenia’s aspiration for democracy in the region, where democracy may be viewed with suspicion,” the Prime Minister said.
“On November 9, 2020, I signed a trilateral ceasefire agreement, which became a reason for attacks on the state institutions, the Government and the National Assembly, because the unleashed war was apparently also aimed at changing the government in Armenia,” he added.
“But we were able to maintain the country’s democracy. Then we decided to conduct early elections to safeguard public accord. On May 12, 2021, two days after my and National Assembly’s resignation came into effect for the purpose of the elections, Azerbaijan invaded the territory of Armenia,” PM Pashinyan continued.
“Had we diverted from our path to democracy at that time, we would have lost our statehood, but we provided the internationally recognized free and democratic elections, and shaped the agenda of peace,” he stressed.
He noted, however, that “our agenda of peace was also attacked.” In November, 2021 and in September 2022, Azerbaijan again invaded the territory of Armenia.
“On October 6, 2022, with support of the French President Macron and President of EU Council Michel, we reached an agreement with the President of Azerbaijan that we normalize our relations on the basis of 1991 Almaty Declaration, according to which administrative borders of the former soviet Armenia and soviet Azerbaijan would become our state borders,” Prime Minister reminded.
“Three days ago with the mediation of the President of the European Council, we made a step further emphasizing that Armenia recognizes Azerbaijan’s territory of 86.6 thousand square kilometers, and Azerbaijan recognizes the territory of Armenia of 29.8 thousand square kilometers,” he added.
“But as a result of illegal blockade of Lachin Corridor, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh have been under siege for 5 months and are facing humanitarian crisis. To send an international fact-finding mission to Lachin Corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh is of high priority today, and to start Baku-Stepanakert negotiations aimed at providing security and human rights for the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh under the international mechanism, is of vital importance,” PM Pashinyan emphasized.
“Assisting in addressing these issues, the Council of Europe will promote democracy and stability in the South Caucasus,” he concluded.