“The international community should apply the principle of “remedial recognition of independence” for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh” – Prime Minister’s Interview to RTS
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview to the Swiss RTS TV channel, answering questions which bore on the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh.
RTS - How serious is the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh? The ICRC has reported hundreds of thousands of people injured in two weeks of fighting.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Yes, that is true, if we consider its impact not only on Nagorno-Karabakh, but also on the region, as a whole. As a matter of fact, the situation is more than serious, because we can witness large-scale military operations underway on the ground.
Even military experts say that no such large-scale military operations have been recorded in the 21st century, since all types of modern weaponry are involved: tanks, armored vehicles and drones in addition to various types of artillery, missiles and rockets, aviation - helicopters, aircraft – and a large number of troops. That is, the situation is more than serious.
I consider it important to state that from the very first days of the offensive unleashed on the initiative of Turkey and supported by international terrorists, Azerbaijan shelled civilian targets in Nagorno-Karabakh - towns, villages – and more than 10 days after the shelling, as it turned out that no ceasefire was to be expected, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army decided to carry out some preventive, restrictive strikes in order to curb the shelling of Karabakh settlements.
RTS - The ceasefire did not hold. In both camps, civilians were killed. What compromises is Armenia prepared to make to stop the fighting?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – It is not that the ceasefire did not hold, it has not even been enacted, because, Azerbaijan launched new attacks just as it was to come into force. As far as compromise is concerned, Armenia has always been ready for compromise. But concessions have to be made on both sides. Azerbaijan has never been prepared to go to compromise. That is the reason why this situation is developing in this way. Today, Azerbaijan is even less willing to make them, not least because Turkey is managing the process.
It is not just the cause of Nagorno-Karabakh that matters for Turkey. What is going on here is the consequence of Turkish expansionist and imperialistic policies. The Armenians in the South Caucasus are the last obstacle on its way east and south-east.
In my opinion, it is crucial to state that the situation is outside the framework of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. It has embraced a far broader logic. It has to be considered from the perspective of Turkey’s policy in the Mediterranean, in Libya, in Syria, and also in the context of its relations with Greece and Cyprus.
RTS - In addition to Nagorny Karabakh, the Armenian forces control seven other Azerbaijani cantons. It is like a buffer zone, which has been emptied of its population. Would you be ready to give back these seven regions in order to achieve a political settlement over Nagorno-Karabakh?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I am the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and not the Prime Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh. One ought to take into consideration the decisions of the elected leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh. As far as the territorial question is concerned, I would like to highlight the fact that the Armenian side was ready to compromise and to sign the agreements proposed in 2011 as part of the Kazan process.
In the meantime, Azerbaijan refused to sign the document for the simple reason that the latter provided for a specific procedure by which Nagorno-Karabakh could exercise its right to self-determination, that is, to decide on its own status.
The point is that strong with the backing of Turkey and Syrian mercenaries, Azerbaijan has set itself the goal of taking full control of the entire territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and getting rid of the Armenian population. I repeat that the Armenian side was ready to conclude an agreement along the lines specified in Kazan as early as in 2011. But Azerbaijan refused to do so as it was coming towards a military solution.
RTS - You are insisting that there are Syrian mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey and Azerbaijan say no. What specific evidence do you have?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - The evidence has already been made public. Special software made it possible to analyze video footages and spot the venues where those images were taken. It is now a well-established fact that they were taken on the frontline during the hostilities. Syrian terrorists themselves shot those videos that subsequently leaked and flooded the web. This is a proof, which has been officially recognized by Russia, France and other countries.
For me, it is extremely important to see the international community acknowledge the fact of Azerbaijan’s terrorist attack on Armenia before moving on to the peace talks, because it is a blatant breach of one of the most important principles of international law, that is no force or threat of use of force can be allowed in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.
Azerbaijan repeatedly resorted to the threat of use of force and is actually using force with the involvement of Turkey and international terrorists. All relevant evidence has been published already; in fact, the Armenian Human Rights Defender has published research-based evidence.
You may know that it is now possible to localize a video recording made through mobile phones. Mediating such localization software, it has been established that terrorists, mercenaries made the aforementioned videos in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone on the frontline.
RTS - What do you expect from Switzerland? Are you disappointed with the position of some western countries?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You know, the problem is that today Nagorno-Karabakh is on the brink of an imminent humanitarian crisis. Recently, when a preventive strike was delivered by the Nagorno-Karabakh’s defense army on the city of Ganja, the Azerbaijanis organized a visit of foreign officials to this region to show what was had happened there.
But, until today, no official representative has visited Nagorno-Karabakh, its capital Stepanakert to see the consequences of the continued bombings and shelling. Civilian infrastructure and residential buildings were targeted for nineteen days in a row. Only a few foreign journalists came, but we saw no representatives of foreign diplomatic missions over there.
What do we expect from Switzerland? Lately, the City Council of Geneva took a symbolic resolution to say that the principle of self-determination was applicable in this case. That is, some peoples can claim independence when they simply cannot survive under the control of a third state.
What I expect from Switzerland is therefore to recognize that Turkey has transported mercenaries and some of its troops to Azerbaijan, after which the latter has started hostilities. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh are going through a severe humanitarian and existential crisis that the international community should take into account. Otherwise, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh will be victims of genocide, and I am weighing my words carefully. No Armenians will remain there if Azerbaijan takes control of this region.
Throughout history, Armenians constituted over 80% of the population in Nagorno-Karabakh; they are today facing the threat of being deprived of their homeland, their country and their place of residence. My expectation from the international community is clear: to accept and implement the principle of “remedial recognition of independence” for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh as otherwise they will be subjected to genocide.
RTS - You are bound by a collective security treaty with Russia. Azerbaijan announced Wednesday that it had struck Armenian territory for the first time. What should Russia’s role be in this situation? Do you expect more support from Moscow?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - We are in permanent consultation with our Russian partners, including within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty. There have already been clear statements to the effect that if the situation deteriorates, Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization will honor their commitments to Armenia.
But I believe that Russia has an even greater role to play, including restoring stability and peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. I would like to emphasize that since Russia is the co-chair closest to our region, the other two co-chairs - France and the United States - should support Russia in its efforts to stabilize the situation.