Armenia’s strategy should be to try to maximally decrease dependency on other – PM

Our strategy should be to try to maximally decrease our dependency on others, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an interview with POLITICO.

“We want to have an independent country, a sovereign country, but we have to have ways to avoid ending up in the center of clashes between West and East, North and South … There cannot be a case when Armenia becomes a ‘proxy.’ This is not permissible,” Pashinyan said.

Calling on the big protector each time conflict flared was simply unsustainable, he argued.

“The model by which we have problems with our neighbors and we have to invite others to protect us — it doesn’t matter who these others are — is a very vulnerable model,” the Prime Minister said.

“The security situation has changed acutely with violations along the line of contact and invasion into the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pashinyan said, noting that Azerbaijan has created a “humanitarian crisis” by closing the Lachin Corridor — the only highway linking Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia,

Deliveries of food and fuel have been blocked for months, with warnings of impending famine in the region. The Azerbaijani government has called on the Karabakh Armenians to lay down their weapons, receive supplies from inside Azerbaijan, and accept being governed as part of the country.

“All of this … was supposed to be in the sphere of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers and as far as these issues exist, the Russian peacekeepers have failed in their mission,” PM Pashinyan said.

Still, he added: “I can’t say though that if the Russian peacekeepers hadn’t been in Nagorno-Karabakh, the situation would now be better.”

Both Azerbaijani and Armenian troops have been put on high alert along their shared border amid clashes in recent days, with the EU’s own civilian monitoring mission reporting “increased tensions and crossfire” along the frontier. According to Pashinyan, “it is not possible to exclude the scenario of escalation” but said “the forces that have been mobilized should return to their bases.”

The Prime Minister reiterated his support for talks, brokered by the U.S., EU and Russia, in an effort to deliver a peace agreement after decades of conflict with Azerbaijan.

“If we want to have lasting, eternal statehood, first of all we have to take very serious steps and invest very serious efforts to settle our relations with our neighbors,” he said.

Pashinyan admitted there was a long way to go before Western countries could be seen as offering the full support Armenia needs.

“Our partners, the EU and the United States are also supporting us when it comes to democratic reforms agenda,” he said, before adding: “I cannot say that the support and the help that we are receiving is sufficient to serve our objectives and our agendas.”

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