Interviews and press conferences

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's interview with Petros Ghazaryan


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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview to Public TV on May 1. Below is the full transcript of the interview.

Petros Ghazaryan - Good evening, dear viewers, we continue to follow the most important events. Today we will talk with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. Good evening Mr. Pashinyan, thank you for accepting our invitation.

Let's immediately move on to the issues that have been troubling the society for these two or three weeks. Mr. Prime Minister, referring to the authorities' claim that the border between Soviet Armenia and Azerbaijan is not being newly drawn, but is being reproduced, the oppositionists claim that Armenia does not have the protocols approved by the deputies of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Republics in 1988. We are talking about Armenia and Azerbaijan. MP Tigran Abrahamyan, if I'm not mistaken, inquired from the Delimitation Commission, the Cadastre Committee, the Ministry of Defense, and they said that there is no such document, so the question arises: what is this delimitation based on?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, let me say that I was informed about the MP's statement, and I was informed by the Cadastre Committee and other bodies. It is not said that before that inquiry, another MP, the leader of the same faction also conducted an inquiry from the Cadastre Committee about the documents. The Cadastre Committee told him that the confidentiality regime of these documents is such that they cannot be released, but they invited the leader of the faction to get acquainted with the documents at the Cadastre Committee. Later, when these delimitation processes became active, if I'm not mistaken, that request was in 2022, the Ministry of Defense, in order to carry out its functions, requested those documents from the Cadastre Committee, and the Cadastre Committee provided them to the Ministry of Defense, I guess with a higher degree of confidentiality, and when at that time they applied to the Cadastre Committee for the second time, the Cadastre Committee simply said that they do not have these documents in their hands.

All those documents exist, I remember that they were listing the documents there, naturally, all the documents are in place, they are at the disposal of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, and they are working with them, moreover, not a single department, different departments are working, These are documents with certain scale of confidentiality and there are certain modes of dealing with them, and I suppose that misunderstandings may be cause by those modes.

But I want to pay attention to the following in connection with that topic, that sometimes, due to understandably different circumstances, we focus on specific locations and start discussing extensively what happened in specific locations, how it happened, when and so on, but the task of the government of the Republic of Armenia in the demarcation process was to introduce such a formula that would ensure not only the restoration of the border of a separate part on a legitimate basis, but also along the entire border of the republic, or rather, Armenia-Azerbaijan.

Could I explain? Because look, we can have different documents for different places, different groups of documents, let's say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 document groups, because you know the processes obviously took place in one country, I mean the Soviet Union, there were different processes. Now we have to adopt a principle on which we carry out the demarcation, we take the folders from those different groups of documents that have a legitimate connection with each other, so to speak, and with that legitimate connection, we are not following the logic of the problem of just a separate section, but we believe that we can express the legitimate reproduction of the entire length of our border. In other words, this is the reason why certain layers can arise here, including in terms of public communication, so that the government has constraints to answer the question, what happened to this tree, what happened to this stone, because we view that tree and stone in the same chain with many other trees and stones, and it is important for us to create a legitimate line of support to connect all these stones and trees together, making a border, I mean, to form a border around the Republic of Armenia established by legitimate international law, or rather to reproduce that border.

Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, but the opposition claims exactly that. They say: you do partial demarcation, which is something does not exist in the world, why is the demarcation of the entire border not done in a package, so that we understand that everything fits into that logic?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You know, first of all, we need to concretely clarify the ideas about the package, because if we take it, no country in the world has just decided to form a border with one action like that, always the process of forming a border, the process of reproduction or demarcation itself is a long-term process, i.e. it's not a button that we press and the border is reproduced. We are today building the necessary package for the reproduction of the border, and that package is based on the Declaration of Alma-Ata.

If you have noticed, the April 19 press release stated that the Delimitation Commissions, their names are long and different, I won't name them, agreed on several important things. The most important among them is that the Alma-Ata Declaration is accepted by both sides as a basic principle for the process of delimitation, and delimitation, according to that principle, must start from somewhere and starts from that place, and must continue and be completed in its normal course. In the document, this process is called the initial process of demarcation, and this initial process is also important due to the known circumstances, so that we can shape the experience accumulated during this period, the experience already accumulated on the ground, as, as it is customary to say in international speech, best practice, and define this best practice, bring that definition of best practice to Parliament for approval in some format, and then continue the full process on that mandate.

Let's look at the example of Armenia and Georgia regarding the same demarcation process. This border demarcation has been going on for 20 years or more, but we believe that, and I have talked with Georgia and our Georgian partners several times, and we have a common understanding that the process should be accelerated.
Even more so in the case of Azerbaijan, under the conditions known to all of us, the demarcation process should be carried out as quickly as possible. Because as long as it is not demarcated, it is understandable that it can cause conflict, and this is why we start with the places with the greatest potential for conflict, in order to keep the situation as manageable as possible.

Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, you said to start somewhere, but the opposition says that it is not just somewhere, it is the place where we have to make concessions. For example, the former foreign minister said that this is being done under pressure against Armenia, therefore, this cannot be a legitimate process.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Look, I want us to imagine the process correctly, because in on October 6, 2022 we agreed with Azerbaijan to recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty based on the Alma-Ata Declaration, and that the Alma-Ata Declaration should be the basis of the delimitation process. Now it is very important that we also show our loyalty to that process in practice, of course it is important that Azerbaijan also shows it. Now you know that even before that process, the issue of the 4 villages existed as a playing card and as an argument for Azerbaijan, and I had the opportunity to say that many people say that we are handing over four villages to Azerbaijan, but I say that we are taking them from Azerbaijan as an argument against Armenia in terms of internationally legitimizing the aggressive policy against the Republic of Armenia.

I want us to get this nuance right, because what problem do we have? Moreover, let me tell you, this story cannot be viewed in isolation from events and experience of 2020, because I personally, as a person and official responsible for all of this, want to emphasize the following. It is understandable for me, I have not forgotten the criticisms raised after the 44-day war of 2020.

Petros Ghazaryan - What do you mean?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I mean the following: they said and there was a lot of criticism that the government was obliged to take steps to prevent the war. Was there a way to prevent war? I said yes, there was a way to prevent the war, for that the Armenian side had to agree to return the 7 regions of Azerbaijan, agree to the dissolution of the current status of Nagorno Karabakh, agree that Nagorno Karabakh is a unit with an Armenian-Azerbaijani population, agree that Nagorno-Karabakh is under Armenian-Azerbaijani administration, that is, not only Armenians, but also Azerbaijanis are in power, and they should govern jointly, starting from the parliamentary level, if there was an agreement on the existence of parliament, etc., and so on.

And then people said, you know what, we didn't have that much information, you had that information, you sould have made informed decisions because that was your job, that was your responsibility, all of that. Of course, I presented arguments, counter-arguments, whatever I have, including in the commission investigating the circumstances of the 44-day war, but all those messages, including the opposition's message, which were also the public's messages, all those messages I have taken note, and based on the complete information that I have now, which, I would like to say, there is not a lot of top secret in that information.

And we make these decisions. But I also want to say the following, to express my belief that a very important cornerstone of the development of the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Armenia is being laid, and I think this is a very important process, a very important event. I don't want to say loud things, but this is a cornerstone for Armenia's independence, sovereignty, security and further development, and for the long-term existence of our state.

You might remember, I have said several times in 2020, 2021, 2022 that the coming years are of crucial importance for our state, and if we can preserve our statehood, sovereignty, independence in the coming years, we will be able to guarantee that in the coming decades an independent state of the Republic of Armenia will exist. This is happening right now before your eyes. I hope that you will also address issues of local importance, but it is very important to understand the process that is happening globally. I say again, this whole process that is happening is also a reaction to the criticisms that were addressed to us in the past.

Petros Ghazaryan - But, look, Mr. Prime Minister, in the political narrative of the Azerbaijani side, in the analytical field, the Alma-Ata Declaration is generally not emphasized as the basis for the border demarcation process. Is this not a deviation from the initial arrangements and does it not allow predicting that after solving the issue of 4 villages, Azerbaijan can simply refuse the obligation to continue the process on the same principle?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Not solving the issue of 4 villages will give Azerbaijan more opportunities to do this than solving the issue of 4 villages, moreover, I want to remind you that by saying 4 villages, we are talking about such villages that have never been within the Tavush region of the Republic of Armenia.

We never had such settlements, and according to the logic of the Alma-Ata Declaration, they were part of Soviet Azerbaijan. And here is the answer to your question: not solving this issue will give Azerbaijan a greater chance to avoid that formula and those agreements than not implementing the demarcation process in these 4 villages.

I want to clarify a few things, first, on October 6, 2022, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on a quadrilateral platform, and it was internationally announced that we recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty based on the Alma-Ata Declaration. Moreover, it is very important to understand what the Declaration of Alma-Ata is. It means that Azerbaijan recognizes this Republic of Armenia. This is the legally grounded, legitimate border line of the Republic of Armenia, including Artsvashen, at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In other words, when we say Alma-Ata Declaration, we mean this.

Second, the Alma-Ata declaration was accepted as a basis for recognizing each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty in the Sochi trilateral declaration of October 31, 2022. Next, the Alma-Ata Declaration was adopted, I mean by Armenia and Azerbaijan, as a basis for mutually recognizing each other's territorial integrity at the Brussels trilateral meeting on May 14, 2023 and the Brussels trilateral meeting on July 15, 2023. Moreover, it was recorded at the Prague meeting and the Brussels meeting that the Alma-Ata declaration is the political basis of the border demarcation process.

Next, quite recently, the press service of the president of Azerbaijan spread a message that during a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Blinken, the president of Azerbaijan expressed Azerbaijan's loyalty to the Prague agreements of October 2022 and the Alma-Ata Declaration. And most importantly, on April 19, 2024, the Delimitation Commissions adopted a joint document, where they noted that the Alma-Ata Declaration is a basic principle for the demarcation process between the two countries, and it will be taken as a basic principle in the regulations of the joint work of the Delimitation Commissions.

In other words, of course we have to be very careful, but we act based on the documents we have accepted with Azerbaijan. Moreover, I want to tell you the following, in fact, dozens of countries of the world, international organizations have welcomed the agreement reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan to demarcate borders based on the Alma-Ata declaration. The United States of America, the European Union, the United Nations, many other countries have welcomed it, and in a sense this has also received a political context, it has become an international diplomatic context, and we will continue to go this way.

Petros Ghazaryan - What is the probability that after the demarcation of the sector of the 4 villages, Azerbaijan will not present new, unilateral claims to other sectors? In the event of further pressures, will Armenia not make concessions in terms of the "Zangezur Corridor" and the return of Azerbaijanis? Didn't you say that if we didn't go with this process, a worse scenario could have happened? Are other pressures possible now?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, I am surprised how consistently we continue to use the narratives put forward by Azerbaijan in the conditions when we have the "Crossroads of Peace" project. And we should use such words.

Petros Ghazaryan - It is the choice of your opponents.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - In the context of your question, I want to draw attention to the following subtlety, which is not actually a subtlety, but a very important circumstance, what are the guarantees that you said: Azerbaijan makes new, unilateral demands, etc., etc. The guarantee is the legitimacy of our positions. Do you understand, this is a very important circumstance, the legitimacy of our positions based on the agreements reached by us, because our positions are legitimate here.

And our policy and strategy is to place all our policies, narrative, words and actions on our legitimate bases and legitimate lines. This is a very important and essential circumstance. And I didn't have the opportunity to say it publicly, although I said it in working formats, I don't rule out that some episodes were published, but we also need to know that including the events of 2021, the events of 2022 were in many cases presented to the international community in the context of the 4 villages. In other words, an attempt was made, in some cases successfully, to show that it was Armenia that was acting beyond its legitimate lines. And analyzing our strategy, now also the security and geopolitical situation, and analyzing our strategies, objectives, agenda, we have come to the conclusion that in global sense, in a collapsing environment, in a collapsing environment of global security, in fact, the factor that could give Armenia an opportunity to create a new security system is legitimacy.

Petros Ghazaryan - Very good, but is there an agreement which areas after Tavush will be demarcated, because after the 4 villages, is it guaranteed by legitimacy that Azerbaijan will return to us the areas in the directions of Vardenis, Jermuk, Ishkhanasar, Nerkin Hand, which are legitimately ours?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First, about the order. If I'm not mistaken, the process is highlighted in the statement of the Delimitation Commissions, but even if it is not highlighted there, this is a clearly formulated agreement that the steps will take place in the following sequence. first, the issue of entrusting the protection of the border in these demarcated areas to the Border Guard troops will be resolved. By both sides. Second, the commissions will adopt by July 1, I may confuse the dates a bit, they will clarify, they will agree on the regulations for the joint work of the commissions. Moreover, this is a preliminary period of demarcation, it is very important for the regulation to become a manual for practical work, where the experience gained during this period will also be expressed, which is a very important detail. After which this regulation will go through domestic ratification procedures.

After that, the commissions should meet and agree on the order of the demarcation process, in which order they carry out the demarcation, that is, in which sectors. And after that they will go to demarcation. In connection with this section, I want to complete what I said before and draw your attention to the following statement used against us on international platforms, that in the case of these the 4 villages or in the 4 demarcated sections, we are dealing with settlements. This is a very important detail. Areas where there are settlements beyond the control of the titular country and areas where there are no settlements beyond the control of the titular country.

But I also want to say that throughout the negotiations, publicly and privately, we have raised the issue of the areas of vital significance of our 31 villages, and in addition, of course, the issue of Artsvashen, which will naturally be included in the process of demarcation. And here is the most important subtlety, when we fix the Alma-Ata declaration as the basic principle of the demarcation process, first of all we fix our legitimate right and legitimate agreement to carry out demarcation in this area.

I want to draw your attention to the narrative, it is obvious that this is not just a narrative. Here, every word has its meaning, we say and it has been recorded and, in fact, according to the logic of the Alma-Ata Declaration, it means that we are not creating a new border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but reproducing the de jure legal border existing at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, based on the Alma-Ata Declaration. Why on the basis of the Alma-Ata Declaration? Because the Alma-Ata Declaration has two meanings in the context of our conversation, that the 12 republics of the Soviet Union, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, agreed on two things, in the context of our conversation, the first is that the Soviet Union ceases to exist and the Soviet Republics become sovereign states, recognizing the borders existing within the framework of the Soviet Union as state borders and recording their inviolability.

Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, but there is a point that it is possible that the Alma-Ata principle can be canceled in the case of adopting another principle for the peace treaty.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Such a thing is not written. It is written that if in the future a different principle is accepted in the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the working regulations of the commissions will be adapted to it. And it has the following logic, you know that this is a delimitation commission and delimitation commissions do not have a mandate over the peace treaty, while the peace treaty has a higher legal significance. And another document is being negotiated, which is higher in its legal significance, if there are contradictions between this paper and that paper (working regulations), not this paper should be matched with that paper, but that paper should be matched with that paper.

And the Republic of Armenia is also a negotiating party in the peace treaty, and the negotiating party has already agreed at the highest level in the meetings and document I listed, that the parties recognize each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty based on the Alma-Ata Declaration. And the Alma-Ata Declaration should be a political base for the demarcation process, and this was also recorded in the document adopted by the delimitation commissions, and we hope and it is important and without it it is hard to imagine that the same will be expressed in the peace treaty.

Petros Ghazaryan - For example, the opposition states that from the map prepared by the government, it can be assumed that parallel with the withdrawal of the Armenian position from the demarcated territory in the Kirants region, the withdrawal of one Azerbaijani position from our sovereign territory should also take place. Is there such an agreement?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, let's put it on the record: we say that not a single millimeter of our sovereign territory can be ceded, but what we say is that the border must be reproduced. To reproduce means to go and locate that boundary on the ground based on already established principles.

Now, for example, there have been two reports that we have already placed border posts, on that map we know where that border post is, and on the map we have an idea of roughly where that border post is. Anyway, when we go to take measurements on the spot using that device called GPS, which locates the coordinates on the ground, there are always deviations. Also, look, we also have a very thin line on the map, right? And we see a line on the map, but depending on the scale of the map, this line has a width on the ground. Depending on the scale of the map, this line may be 40 meters wide, this line may be 15 meters wide, and so on.

This is what I want to say in terms of the methodology for orientating in the terrain. As for the demarcated areas, I want to say again that the Ministry of Defense will not perform service for border protection in the demarcated areas. The issue of border protection will be fully implemented by the border guard troops of the National Security Service, because the mandate of the border guard troops is to protect the border of the Republic of Armenia.

In other words, we will not have positions of the Ministry of Defense on the border in that area. What do I mean? A military position can be taken out of our sovereign territory and that position is taken out, because the Ministry of Defense will no longer perform service on that line, the border guard troops of the Republic of Armenia will perform service.

Petros Ghazaryan - Does all this have a geopolitical context?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Yes, it has a geopolitical context and I have already referred to that geopolitical context.

Petros Ghazaryan - Because you see, the European institutions, the United States, the Arab countries, our neighboring countries, except Russia, have welcomed this process.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Speaking about our security from the rostrum of the National Assembly, I said that we should rely on ourselves in our security and all other issues. And we have to rely on ourselves to ensure our security as well.

This is a geopolitical context because in front of all of us, in broad daylight and several times, structures and countries which had security obligations to us failed to fulfill their security obligations. I don't want to discuss reasons and excuses now, there can be all kinds of excuses, I don't even want to say this as an accusation, I record it as a fact and we deal with this fact.

And what can I, you, all of us, the Republic of Armenia conclude from this fact? It should lead to one conclusion that we should rely on ourselves to ensure our security. We also need to think about the security formula, what formula should we apply to ensure our security? I have already said and I want to repeat, we must ensure our security on the basis of legitimacy, on the basis of legitimate expectations and legitimate demands.

But there is the second most important thing, what is the perception of our geopolitical change, the perception change and many criticize us. In other words, in order to criticize, they say that we are changing our views or that we are changing our approaches. Yes, we change views and approaches because firstly the world changes and secondly our ideas change based on the facts brought by the reality.

We cannot perceive the world the same after at least de jure, it was recorded how the CSTO should act in which case, and when this does not happen, not changing means to take the country to undisputed destruction. Yes, we change, because in many cases our assessments also change, the objective reality changes.

Going back to the context of your question, I said part of the geopolitical context, but there's a more important second part of that geopolitical context and implication? And the geopolitical implication and consequence is that it is in the interests of our country to ensure the security of our country by eventually adopting a formula to live in our region without foreign aid and without foreign patronage, to find that formula. And what is happening today? We talk so much about outpost, about the logic of outpost, etc. This is not only an external perception of our country, this is also an internal perception. No one asks when I say outpostization, who is is making us an outpost, is this happening from outside or from inside? It is very important to note that this outpostization does not only happen from the outside, but also from the inside, because we ourselves very often, when we analyze the path we have traveled, see that we ourselves have positioned ourselves as an outpost, because no one has given an answer to a very important question, and this is not a criticism of someone else, this is a criticism of myself.

In general, I have said and I think that the perceptions that I had and have, I consider to be very strongly organically connected with our society, our country, its perceptions, thinking, etc., this is a criticism of myself. During the last 30 years, being a journalist, being a member of parliament, being the head of a faction, then being a prime minister, we finally did not ask ourselves a question, dear people, if we have this problem with this one neighbor and our perception is that it should get deeper and deeper, etc. , we have this problem with the other, we have that with the other, how are we going to live in this region? Under those conditions, in that formula, it is possible to live in the region only with external sponsorship, only with external sponsorship, there is simply no other option.

Petros Ghazaryan - This question is also raised in the context of this demarcation process. the Church, the opposition say: "our territory is where our soldier is standing", our soldier is standing in those 4 villages today, so it is our territory.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - In other words, Artsvashen, where our soldiers are not standing, it is not our territory?

Petros Ghazaryan – Let me finish, Mr. Prime Minister, now how does that context open up, that this concession or border demarcation will not lead to peace, fixing of borders and the supremacy of international law, but to the fact that the appetite of the countries of our region will be opened more and they will do what they do regardless of our behavior. If we give, they will want more, they are enemy states and want to eliminate us, that logic of the outpost is legitimate, because if they still want to eliminate you, you give now, they will want more, you give again, they will want more, and in this case going out of the logic of an outpost is something like treason, because it is better to be a little outpost, but to be, than not to be an outpost and not to be at all.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - No one asked, and this means, because we talk so much about the outpost, about the logic of the outpost, etc., this is not only an external perception of our country, this is also an internal perception. No one said you say foreposting, so who is foreposting us? Is that outsourcing happening from the outside or from the inside?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I gave a long answer to your short question. It will probably take longer to answer long questions.

Petros Ghazaryan - That is the political debate unfolded today.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, I want to say that we have to admit that we are being unfair to our army and our soldiers, because we put all the burden on our soldiers. We put the burden of diplomacy on the soldier, we put the burden of the economy on the soldier, we put the burden of security on the soldier, we put the burden of the soldier on the soldier and say: Well, dear soldier, cope with it. In fact, the soldier and the army are the last factor in providing security. There is also a problem in our thinking, that when we say security, we understand the soldier. I say again: this is not a criticism of someone else, this is a criticism of us, myself.

Regional relations are also a security component. In other words, let me return to my previous question: we want to constantly increase the security risks and at the same time try to exempt our children from military service and put the entire burden on the soldier who was unable to avoid army service. It is also our duty to the soldier that we shape our relationship in such a way that we do not place disproportionate burdens on the soldier.

And this is an important circumstance, because in general, what does a soldier have to do standing at the border? One of the biggest problems in our military is that our soldiers spend most of their service in the trenches, that is, they don't even get trained properly as soldiers. This is illogical. A soldier must be at a permanent location, must be mobile and when there is a security problem, go and solve that problem, return to the military unit.

Petros Ghazaryan - Where our soldier stands, that is our land.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - In that case, why do we speak about the 31 villages, if our soldier is not standing there, it is not our land? Isn't Artsvashen our land, do they reject this? They write applications to hold the government criminally responsible for ceding the sovereign territory of Armenia, in the event that they are now ceding Artsvashen, the sovereign territory of Armenia, and they are ceding the territories of the other 31 villages, who will hold them criminally responsible?

Petros Ghazaryan - They cite the ceasefire of 1993 exists, saying whoever stood where, it is his.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Why the 1993 ceasefire? Look, that's what I'm saying, this thinking of ours, let's listen to ourselves from the side, look...

Petros Ghazaryan - Because in 1993 the CIS countries joined and recognized it.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - What did they join and recognize?

Petros Ghazaryan - Azerbaijan ratified that document.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - What has Azerbaijan ratified, what has it recognized?

Petros Ghazaryan - The agreement signed in 1993.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - OK, I don't understand what you are talking about. The Alma-Ata Declaration was signed in 1991, which said that the existing borders, the administrative borders of the Soviet Union, become the state border. Who said...

Petros Ghazaryan - They signed a ceasefire in 1993. The opposition says: where we stand, these are our borders.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, the ceasefire did not take place in 1993, it took place in 1994.

Petros Ghazaryan - It was developed in 1993. They say that this ceasefire document should...

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Which ceasefire?

Petros Ghazaryan – The ceasefire agreement.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - What is the ceasefire agreement about? Is the ceasefire agreement about border recognition?

Petros Ghazaryan - Look, Azerbaijan joined Alma-Ata in 1993, therefore the opposition says...

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Azerbaijan, if I remember correctly, joined the Alma-Ata declaration twice due to their internal political events, but what does that have to do with all this? Now, if we say we join in 2000 some convention adopted in the 60s, how do we join? They will say there was the Soviet Union in 1965. So, if you accept in 2002 the UN Convention adopted in 1965, which was also adopted by the Soviet Union, you were then the Soviet Union. So you are not an independent state, because when you join the convention of 1965, then you were not a state at that time, so you are not a state now either.

Are we guided by that logic? If someone comes and tells us such a thing from the side, what will we say? Let's say, please drink a glass of cold water, come again and repeat your thought and listen to what you said. And in our reality, such thoughts are heard very often and it sometimes becomes a usual thing for us. That is our biggest problem.

Now about the topic of "They want to eliminate us". If they want to eliminate us, then we must be able to control that desire of eliminating us. Should we relate to that desire or not, should we understand whether we can change that desire or not. Should we tell the soldier again that they want to eliminate us, so you go and deal with that threat, while we go and spend our holiday or study in Baden-Baden, our children will go and live there, and the soldier must deal with that desire to eliminate. Should we be able to control this desire to eliminate us or not? Now you will ask, how can we control others' desire of eliminating us? With one very important factor: legitimacy. We struggled for 20 years and more inside Armenia about the importance of legitimacy. Now, thank God, we have solved that issue. But we must also take legitimacy as a base in our foreign relations.

Petros Ghazaryan - Very good, but look, a very simple question...

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - There was one more question...

Petros Ghazaryan - It is a nuance related to the same question. That legitimacy has no guarantor.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Legitimacy itself is a guarantee.

Petros Ghazaryan - Outpost has a guarantor.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Very good, if the outpost has a guarantor, why do you say our territories are occupied and so on?

Petros Ghazaryan - It is a bad guarantor, but is still a guarantor.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I'm sorry, I guarantee you that legitimacy is a much better guarantee than a bad guarantee. I guarantee you that for dealing with neighbors legitimacy is a much better and much stronger guarantor than a bad guarantor, than even a slightly better than bad guarantor, than even a slightly bad guarantor, than even a good guarantor. Legitimacy is a better guarantor than a good guarantor.

Petros Ghazaryan - At the expense of what?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - At the expense of your subjectivity, because your good legitimacy, if you want to exchange your legitimacy with someone else's good guarantee, you are giving up your sovereignty, you are giving up your statehood, you are giving up your independence.

Petros Ghazaryan - But in that case, there is a force behind you, in this case there is only the international law, which is becoming more vulnerable day by day.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You know, it depends from which side you look at it. There is a side that becomes more vulnerable, there is a side that becomes less vulnerable. And here, too, there is a question of choice: what do we choose: do we choose vulnerable international law or invulnerable international law? Those who criticize us say that we were saying something else. Yes, we were saying something different, because we were in our logic, in our perceptions and in our socio-psychology, as a person, government, and authority organically connected with the Republic of Armenia and its people. But I say again, the primary goal and importance of political leadership in this changing world should be to adapt the country and society you lead to the transforming world.

And here, I repeat, it's a matter of choice, we have to make a choice. Moreover, we have no choice either, because our previous choice has shown our vulnerability. When we say no, we choose a vulnerable international order, that vulnerable international order has come to hurt us. When we say that we must choose an invulnerable international order, and that invulnerable international order must make us invulnerable, not all at once, not in one act, not in one day. But this is a strategy we have chosen. And I believe it is the strategy that our people have chosen. And I, as the representative of the people, have chosen that strategy.

And there was a nuance there: to be an outpost or not to be. The choice is here. And this is precisely in the logic of the outpost, that: see, you must either be an outpost or not be at all, see, you either must not be or you must be an outpost. In this case, what choice should we make? It's clear what choice we make. Our whole problem is that we want to get out of this formula where the choice is not to be an outpost or not to be at all.

Petros Ghazaryan – Let's go to the region, rather Tavush. "According to the process, the school being built in the village of Kirants will be at a small distance from the border of Azerbaijan and will be directly observed, which means that it cannot be safe," says the opposition.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - It is being observed right now. Look, they say, those villages, areas are becoming vulnerable. Although, yesterday, the respected representatives of the village claimed otherwise, they say it is not vulnerable now in the sense that there is no threat of appearing under direct fire. After that meeting, I specifically invited our military and asked if the village of Kirants and the school of the village of Kirants is vulnerable or not, can it be directly targeted or not? I was told that it can be directly targeted. And this is the difference: today the school is under direct target and there is no obstacle between the school and the nearest Azerbaijani position, and after the demarcation process there will be an obstacle in the face of the demarcated border. That is what I am trying to present to our dear villagers and citizens.

Petros Ghazaryan - Mr. Prime Minister, from a military point of view, but from a purely social point of view, they were visually far from the school, now those students will see Azerbaijanis.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, let's note that work on the ground has not been done, there are still many questions to which we will not have answers until we carry out work on the ground. We see it on the map, we see it on the google map, but still, among others, the experience of Voskepar and Berkaber showed that when you go to a place with that coordinate, it turns out that your ideas about that place slightly differ from the reality on the ground, because no matter how accurate the maps and satellite photos are, it is still different to actually see on the ground.

Moreover, there is both an opportunity and a risk here. I want to repeat: it can be a little on this side, a little on that side. Before formulating my answer, I tried to make this clarification, if visibility is a problem, I said: we can plant trees, we can build a wall, if visibility is a problem. But we need to understand…

Petros Ghazaryan - There is a problem of sense of security.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - The sense of security is the border, the state delimited border, the sense of security is peace, the sense of security is the absence of escalation, regional stability. When there was a war in September 2020, did the students of Yerevan schools feel safe, or did the students of Gyumri feel safe, or did the students of Vanadzor, Stepanavan feel safe during the 44-day war? Or when there is an escalation at the border, all the social networks, the press write that there are funerals of fallen soldiers in those cities, do the children of those schools feel safe, when photos of soldiers continue to be hung on the walls of schools, who are the graduates of that school, do the students of that school feel safe?

Petros Ghazaryan - The villagers have property deeds, what will happen to them?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - We should address this issue very seriously. And we actually discuss that issue on a daily basis. It is a fact and an argument that we must deal with, we must understand, we must analyze this information ourselves, and it is not new, and we must deal with that topic. Moreover, I told the representatives of our dear people, I don't know how this will sound, how it will be interpreted, how it will be used, how it will be manipulated against me, but it is important that I said it. I want to say again, a very important thing, what we are talking about, we are talking theoretically, we are talking about the map, about the line, roughly, we don't know where it will be on the ground, how it will be expressed. And the experience of both Voskepar and Berkaber has shown us this. We thought of a place, for example, that it would be maybe 50 meters away from some point, then the device showed that it was 100 meters away. There was a place that we thought it would be 150 meters away, the device showed that it was 30 meters away. That is, what we are talking about now is theoretical, which of course has certain limits, we can talk about meters, 30, 40, but we can't talk about kilometers. We have to go and see on the ground and I have told people the problems that might arise.

Petros Ghazaryan - Bridge, road...

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - No, still in the private sector, because I repeat, I don't know if these problems will arise or not. We see, we know, obviously, the border passes through the edge of the village, at least the edge. If it were a wasteland, a few, even tens of meters would not cause any emotions, because no matter how precisely we put a coordinate on the satellite pictures, then during the demarcation process, the device gives a deviation: 5 meters, 10 meters, 30 meters. We don't know what the situation is on the ground, we have to work on the ground to understand, but I have said publicly, if suddenly such problems arise, it is not their problem, it is my problem, it is my problem and the government's problem. And yes, there are property deeds, there are documents. We can't leave it unnoticed, we can't say no, there is no such thing. We need to talk to people, we need to understand, we need to find out the bases.

Petros Ghazaryan - The Church is very actively involved in the process and overtly says that the government should be removed. What's your comment?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - What should I say? The Bible says, "All authority comes from God."

Petros Ghazaryan - Don't you see a problem there?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - To be honest, no, what problem should I see? For example, what problem should I see?

Petros Ghazaryan - Well, for example, the spiritual structure is engaged in politics.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - You know, during this time I have seen so many things, the clergy did a sit-in under my office and went on a hunger strike. But if I were to interpret that question purely as a believer, a follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church, I could interpret many things, but I have not come to give an interview at this moment as a follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church and my conversation with God is my conversation with God, although from time to time I I am also making it public.

Petros Ghazaryan - What process is expected in Kirnats in the coming days?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - The following is expected in Kirants. During this period, I had at least 4 meetings with the representatives of Kirants. We have, if I'm not mistaken, 11 demarcated points in the Kirants section. In other words, in a huge part of those 11 points of demarcation, the people of Kirants do not dispute that border either. In the coming days, we will start the demarcation of the part that is not contested, including by the residents of Kirants, and we will look for solutions for the other 3 points.

Now, to be honest, I don't want to release a lot of working information, including the property deeds, including the rest of the documents, some of which are classified as confidential and top secret, we're looking into those documents and of course, we must do our best to preserve and protect the interests of our residents, to listen to them, to try to implement what they say. But I again want to draw the attention of all of us to a circumstance that I already spoke about answering the first question.

We are not demarcating the border of Kirants, we are demarcating the border of the Republic of Armenia, Kirants has no border. Kirants has a border to the extent that it is a bordering village. Because there are many nuances here, many complications. If you pay attention, you will learn about these complications and nuances in public statements, but I want to draw our attention to this circumstance. Yes, of course, the interest of every resident of Kirants is in the center of our attention and we will do everything to protect the rights, dignity, and safety of each of them, but I want to emphasize again that we are now demarcating the border of the Republic of Armenia.

And you see, from the beginning, the debate was about whether we are doing the demarcation in a package or just piece by piece? We are creating the formula of the package with these pieces, and this formula is the most important achievement that Armenia and Azerbaijan have achieved together. It is as much an achievement for Armenia as it is for Azerbaijan, and vice versa. And this achievement must be preserved, because this achievement is a very important cornerstone of the independence and sovereignty of these countries. Look, I say cornerstone, whoever knows more or less about construction, knows that the cornerstone is not the whole, but from the beginning, when building something, the cornerstones are placed and the construction begins around them. These cornerstones are placed, they are being placed, and you have to place these cornerstones and continue building.

And I repeat that the following will happen in Kirants: those parts that are not subject to dispute, including by our beloved sisters and brothers of Kirants, we will start the demarcation works in that part, as for the 3, 4 points that are under debate, we will continue working on the 4 points until we come to something and we can put convincing arguments on the table that will be accepted as truth.

Petros Ghazaryan - Thank you.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – Thank you.

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