Nikol Pashinyan: “I call on our society not to give in to the provocations of Azerbaijan’s propaganda network in Armenia”
A regular Cabinet meeting was held today, chaired by Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Before discussing the agenda, Nikol Pashinyan referred to the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and Armenia’s internal-political situation. He said in his remarks:
Before addressing the meeting agenda, I would like to talk about the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the situation inside Armenia.
I can state that the operative situation in Syunik and Gegharkunik Marzes of Armenia has not changed; it remains tense as about 500-600 Azeri servicemen continue to be stationed on the territory of the Republic of Armenia. Our armed forces abide by the following logic: to restrain the potential of Azerbaijan’s actions through tactical steps. In political terms our goal is not to allow the situation spiral out of control and to do the utmost to rule out any scenario of war or hostilities and to get Azerbaijani troops to pull back from the sovereign territory of Armenia.
We can state that a great deal of diplomatic work has been done and is being done to this end, and one important indication of this is that the Foreign Ministry’s seat is vacant at today’s government meeting because all of our colleagues in the Foreign Ministry are now engaged in this work.
I must state that I consider the diplomatic work done so far to be effective. At the same time, I wish to emphasize that not only our colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs carry out diplomatic work in this direction, but either the Ministry of Defense is engaged diplomatic work; our deputy prime ministers also carry out diplomatic work, and I consider their successful. Why? Because, in fact, the positions of our international partners and the Republic of Armenia are identical, and it is that the Azerbaijani troops must leave the territory of the Republic of Armenia. This is a fact recorded at a working level, and I want us to state this publicly.
But, naturally, Azerbaijan is using certain levers not to do this, and unexpectedly, or even now we can say, expectedly, it has allies in the Republic of Armenia in the right sense of the word. At one of the previous meetings of the Security Council, I stated that information warfare in modern world is sometimes more important than what happens on the battlefield. And once again I want to say and I will not avoid this word: the Republic of Azerbaijan has its agents of information warfare in the political elite of the Republic of Armenia. At the same time, the activities of these people are not new, I do not know, maybe this problem exists all over the world, but:
- First, as early as in 2020 these people openly and publicly suggested that Azerbaijan should carry out an attack on the Republic of Armenia.
- Those people on several occasions and recently in the parliament indicated the paths by which the border of the Republic of Armenia could be crossed as safely as possible.
- Now these people are helping Azerbaijan so that we could avoid the diplomatic work that we are doing, the diplomatic results that we have achieved. And again the tale of an alleged conspiracy by the Armenian government against the Republic of Armenia is being spun.
I can see a very disrespectful attitude towards Armenian society: a paper has been published on the Internet, 90% of which is closed, that is, painted over in black. And this is presented as proof that the government of the Republic of Armenia is signing an anti-Armenian document. Can you imagine? Imagine: a paper is published, all the content is closed, and we are told that it provides evidence that another anti-Armenian document is being signed.
If so, on the contrary, the lines should not be hidden, but revealed and presented to the public. Why is it being hidden? And, of course, I repeat, I cannot characterize these actions other than as the activities of Azerbaijan’s information network. I do not know the right de-jure wording, but this is my political assessment.
However, we need to analyze where they get these working documents from. As far as I can see, Azerbaijan is where they can get such papers, because there is a trilateral dialogue going on between Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and as far as I understand, they get these documents from Azerbaijan.
And the decisions that have been reached at the moment with our international partners, preliminary agreements, these decisions are 100% in the best interest of the Republic of Armenia. Not 99.9%, but 100%. And, yes, if Azerbaijan implements these agreements in the conditions on which we agreed, yes, I will sign a relevant document, because it goes 100% in tune with the national interests of Armenia. I simply will not publish this paper now, because it is incorrect: this is a working document, negotiations are underway, there are proposals, etc.
Next: so the Azerbaijani propaganda machine publishes a three- or four-minute fragment from a two-hour video, I could be wrong about the number of minutes. These same people take it and publish it on their pages, concealing the fact that the source is in Azerbaijan. Can you imagine, there was two hours of action, and they published a three-minute fragment from those two hours?
I cannot describe this otherwise than as destructive activity in the rear. Whereas we do not have legal mechanisms to apply here, society should react to this, because, first of all, it is disrespectful towards the society of the Republic of Armenia. Because conflicts, contradictions in general, if our compatriots or some people perceive them as heroic stories based on the scenarios of war films, this never happens, even in the most victorious wars. It never happens.
I would like to touch on how it was possible for Azerbaijani troops to cross the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. First of all, I would like to note that our external border extended by several hundred kilometers the war, and the areas that we are dealing with now are mountainous areas with difficult terrain, which are under snow for most of the year, where it is almost impossible to carry out any engineering work at all.
On the Armenian side, this section of the border is in exactly the same condition as on the Azerbaijani side. There is another problem here: We have to compare the current situation with the content of the statement of November 9, because, yes, in our assessment, the movement of Azerbaijani troops contradicts the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020. And here, too, we need to express our position and carry out diplomatic work to state this.
There is a lot of talk about the fact that the Republic of Armenia turned to the Collective Security Treaty Organization without resorting to retaliatory action. Anyone who has read at least a few paragraphs of the Collective Security Treaty knows that the Collective Security Treaty Organization is called upon to overcome crisis situations without fire.
This is not an organization within which one can shoot and invite others to shoot as well. It is an organization whose mechanisms should be used to prevent escalation and to regulate escalation by political and diplomatic means. And this is the essence of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, because if shooting starts within the CSTO, in all likelihood, it can escalate into a major regional war, and in some scenarios into a larger war.
In this regard, it is important to understand the ultimate goal behind Azerbaijan’s actions. One of the options that we talked about was the provocation of a war, and we should focus on the fact that this operation, at least in Syunik Marz, falls within the narrowest part of the territory of the Republic of Armenia, which is about 26 km wide.
And if the situation had gotten out of hand, uncontrollable events could have developed there that could have led to very serious problems. I think that our approach to solving the problem through international security mechanisms was the right one, and it is justified at least for the moment. Pending a final settlement of the issue, we cannot say that we have reached our goal by this route.
Taking into account these internal processes, it cannot be ruled out that the purpose of this action is to influence the internal political processes in Armenia, influence the election results and, possibly, provide political support to this propaganda and intelligence network operating in Armenia.
Dear colleagues, I spoke about Azerbaijani propaganda, but we do believe in general that we should refrain from using any propaganda in this situation, because the moment is critical. We made it clear and continue to state that regional stability is important for us.
A lot is being said about demarcation, delimitation, adjustment of borders, and now they are trying to intimidate the Armenian society with this fact. I would like to responsibly say, and this is my position, that the Republic of Armenia needs border adjustment just as much as Azerbaijan does, because the border adjustment and, finally, demarcation and delimitation at some stage is the most important guarantee of security. However, one must understand that this is not an easy process.
I do not know of any post-Soviet country, at least in our region, that has completed the process of demarcation and delimitation. In order for the public to understand, I want to clarify what delimitation is, what demarcation is. Delimitation is a process when boundaries are drawn on maps, coordinated for maps, while demarcation fixes the boundaries on the ground, that is, it fixes which point on the map corresponds to a point in a particular place. GPS checks whether a given point is indicated on the map
I think it important to state once again that the opening of communications in the region is one of the priorities of our government, because Azerbaijan needs the opening of communications exactly as much as the Republic of Armenia needs it. I would like to draw attention to the fact that since 1992 a policy of blockade has been carried out against Armenia, I mean the closure of communications. In view of this fact, we must understand that the agenda for opening communications is beneficial to the Republic of Armenia. On the other hand, as I have said many times – and I do not think we should state this every day, I say once and for all: we have never discussed and will not discuss the logic of a “corridor” in the context of communications.
I would also like to stress the following, and this is extremely important: the international community, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs are speaking more and more actively about the need for a long-term political settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Why is that important? It is important because there is an allegation that the issue is resolved. I think that now we can state that the international community says that the Karabakh issue is not resolved and still needs to be settled.
I wish to highlight our government’s political will to settle the issue. Why? Because we need to resolve all these difficult, painful, problematic issues in order to rule out wars in the long run and open an era of peaceful development for the people of Armenia, the Republic of Armenia.
This is not an easy task; this is quite a hard task. Here we need political will, here we need the ability to take blows upon ourselves, here we need an open, honest, sincere dialogue with society, and we are following this path. But I want us not to give in to illusions. Yes, today Azerbaijani troops have crossed the border of the Republic of Armenia. As I said, this lengthy process implies that Azerbaijan’s armed forces should leave the territory of the Republic of Armenia as soon as possible.
In general, ideally, our vision is that both the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia and the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan should withdraw to their places of permanent deployment all along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and especially in this section, so that border protection services might be carried out by border guard troops, which is their primary calling.
I say again, let us not give in to illusions; it will not be that easy to go for such a solution, because it implies many challenges. By the way, we have always proposed it during this time and will continue to do so, because, after all, it is a solution that will really be a sign of stability in the region - long-term stability.
Once again, I would like to call on our citizens not to give in to the provocations of Azerbaijan’s propaganda network in Armenia. We are making consistent efforts to protect the national and state interests of Armenia, to protect the interests of Artsakh, to resolve the aforementioned issues. Thank you.”