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“Not Even a Comma to Add or Remove”: Pashinyan on Karabakh 

In parliamentary hearings of the performance of the government in 2019, Pashinyan responded to a question that referred to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s recent statements on Nagorno Karabakh. No settlement on Karabakh can practically count as a settlement if it is not acceptable for the people of Armenia and Karabagh, including for the Parliaments of both countries, he said.

Pashinyan claims that no head of Armenia has expressed himself on the Nagorno Karabakh issue so frequently as he did. “No head of Armenia has been so open and transparent [on Karabakh] as I have. My positions, the positions of the government exist inasmuch as they are our positions, and our position exists notwithstanding what kind of other positions exist in the world,” said Pashinyan. He also said that no settlement option is possible without being discussed in Armenia’s and Karabakh’s security councils and parliaments. “Even if in the past there were governments that thought to sign and bring down a settlement, they overestimated their capacities. Without you, no settlement can exist if it is to be in this round of parliamentary assembly.”

Pashinyan also added that he sees no need to “add or remove even any comma” in positions he has expressed. “There are risks but it’s a matter of choice: what do we want as a country? how do we position ourselves? do we want to hold our arms around our heads as a position asking do not hit us? or do we want to position ourselves in a way that can get blows and in case of need also counteract with blows?”

Armenia’s Prime Minister also talked about the work of the Armenia’s diplomatic staff. According to him, even if diplomats have adopted this kind of an approach, it is partial. “Apologizing to the diplomatic personnel, I have to pose the question: Has the diplomatic personnel fully adopted and fully incorporated this position? No. Do I say that nobody has adopted this position? No. A very professional segment acknowledges this position, but there is also a segment that is used to working under the old regime when they would bend their necks, oppressed, would beg everyone for something, get some crumbs and be happy with that. This is my evaluation of the situation, I’ve seen with many specific examples, I’ve experienced this with pain,” concluded Pashinyan.

At a teleconference organized by the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Club on April 21, Lavrov (Minsk Group co-Chairman) mentioned that negotiations are carried over projects, such as the so-called “Madrid Principles” and “Kazan Principles,” implicating step-by-step approaches, in other words, first liberation of adjacent regions of NK, clearing transportation blockade etc. Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan fired back, that no such a document is currently on the negotiations table as lack of security guarantees for the people of NK would not allow pursuing such negotiations. MoF spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan, went further to clarify that since 2018, Armenia is no longer negotiating step-by-step scenarios and that the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict is possible only through mutual concessions with a clear definition of status and security measures.