Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has stated that calling Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, is “not true".
“There is an internationally established negotiation format named OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship and the mandate of that format is to decide on the final status of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict… Your government, your country is involved in the negotiation processes. So, if Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, internationally recognized, why are you then negotiating for deciding the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Isn’t it strange?” Pashinyan said in a talk held at the sideline of the Paris Peace Forum on November 12.
The Paris Peace Forum was called together by French President Emmanuel Macron to address solutions to global challenges ranging from climate change and terrorism to migration and cyber security. More than 30 heads of state and government reportedly attended the forum.
During the forum Azerbaijani activist and former political prisoner Bakhtiyar Hajiyev asked Pashinyan about his statement “Karabakh is Armenia – period". Pashinyan stated said he had been waiting for a year to hear mild, close-to-peace statements from the Azerbaijani government that might positively affect the deadlock in the conflict.
“I personally asked President Aliyev to make a similar statement to create a small breakthrough in negotiation process. Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani government continued to claim that Zangazur… is part of Azerbaijan. Yerevan, the capital of independent Armenia is an Azerbaijani city. Lake Sevan in Armenia is an Azerbaijani lake. They continue to threaten to occupy not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also [Zangazur] but also the capital of Yerevan… No one can speak with us from a position of force,” Pashinyan said adding peace is the utmost goal for the Armenian government.
The Armenian leader added that his intention is to start dialogues both with the Azerbaijani government and with the Azerbaijani people, “because I think we have many things to discuss."
Pashinyan’s speech in Khankendi (Stepanakert), also known as the capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh, during which he said “Karabakh is Armenia – period" caused an uproar in Azerbaijan. Later, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev responded at Russia’s Valdai conference in the presence of President Vladimir Putin, saying, “Karabakh is Azerbaijan – exclamation point!", a move that intensified the already tense ties between the hostile countries.
Nagorno-Karabakh has been in the hands of ethnic Armenian separatists since the war ended between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1994. The international community, including the UN ,has expressed support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and that Armenian forces withdraw.