“A military-political security mechanism has been activated, which implies both political and military solutions” - Nikol Pashinyan’s Speech at NA Special Sitting
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Honorable National Assembly Deputy Speaker,
In fact, we are today holding a landmark discussion. During the yesterday’s discussion at the Security Council we stated that we should communicate more openly with both the Armenian society and the international community, because confidentiality may lead to unnecessary speculations and fake news.
You are already aware that on the night of May 12, several groups representing different units of Azerbaijan’s armed forces crossed the state border of the Republic of Armenia in an attempt to take up strategic positions in the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
The Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia carried out tactical-preventive operations without using firearms and managed to check the adversary’s advance. I have already stated that the Azeri troops advanced up to 3.5 kilometers into Armenian territory in the area of Sev Lich in Syunik Marz.
The Government, the Ministry of Defense, the Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs first assessed the situation to see the real purpose behind the provocation. The further course of our actions depends on the assessment of this situation. And our conclusion is unequivocal: Azerbaijan’s goal is to provoke a military conflict in the territory of the Republic of Armenia. In other words, this is not a local action on a specific hill, mountain or section: there are several arguments to substantiate this.
First, you may know that smaller-scale operations were carried out by the Azerbaijanis in that area and in some more places. The representatives of Azerbaijani armed forces tried to explain their presence in those areas by means of obviously falsified maps, that is, by trying to present those territories as Azerbaijani.
I have already mentioned that the Soviet-era maps clearly show that Azerbaijan’s claims are ill-grounded, to put it mildly, of which they themselves are well aware. So why was this possible? They know that they are not in Azerbaijan.
It is to be noted that on the day of the provocation, Azerbaijan announced the holding of large-scale military exercises on May 16 involving 15,000 servicemen. This could not be a mere coincidence. In fact, 15,000 troops are supposed to be withdrawn from their permanent bases.
Next, in late April, the President of Azerbaijan voiced open threats against the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia, saying that he would use force to open a corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, as he calls it the Zangezur Corridor.
And the next most important argument: if we take a closer glance at the map, we will see that Sev Lich is located in the narrowest section of the southern territory of the Republic of Armenia, where the distance between the eastern and western borders of Armenia is the smallest of all places, this is also a strong record.
After analyzing the situation, we made a decision to use the military-political mechanisms of Armenia’s security system. In other words, the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff reported that our armed forces are in a position to quickly respond to and resolve any local issue, but since our analysis has shown that we are most likely dealing here with a provocation aimed at triggering a larger-scale military conflict, a decision was made not to take local action, but to launch a military-political security mechanism.
Why, because under the logic of a local conflict, it would be very difficult to substantiate in fact who was standing over where, who was the first to shoot, and so on. In other words, what we first need to do in this context is to substantiate and prove that this is not a local problem.
Article 2 of the Collective Security Treaty was invoked to this end, which states: “States Parties shall consult with each other on such international security issues as may affect their national interests and shall agree upon issues of mutual concern. In the event of a threat to the security, territorial integrity or sovereignty of one or more States Parties, or a threat to international peace and security, States Parties shall immediately activate the mechanism of joint consultation to coordinate their positions and take measures to address the threat.”
At yesterday’s Security Council meeting, I instructed the Secretary of the Security Council, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Acting Minister of Defense to launch the mechanisms provided for in the Collective Security Treaty. We worked late into the might and had the necessary documents prepared and sent out earlier today. An international mechanism is supposed to be activated thereby.
I wish to state that the process implies the following steps: First, a letter should be addressed to the Chairman of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, in this case to President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon. After that, the mechanism of joint consultations should be launched in the coming days. A proposal for joint actions should be formed in accordance with the CSTO Crisis Response Regulations of December 10, 2010. The Secretary of the Security Council will give you more details about the applicable procedures and possible solutions.
I wish to highlight two important points. First, a priority for the Collective Security Treaty is to resolve a crisis or pre-crisis situation by political means. However, it envisages a decision on proactive deployment on the territory of any CSTO-member state as a token of readiness to use force and prevent or repel an armed attack threatening the security, stability, territorial integrity and sovereignty of one or several CSTO-member states. That is, we have now launched a mechanism of military-political security, which provides for both political and military-political solutions.
I consider it important to stress that negotiations on the settlement of this situation started yesterday. And our position in these negotiations is unequivocal and very clear: the armed forces of Azerbaijan must leave the territory of the Republic of Armenia. This position is stipulated as the content of negotiations, and this position, in fact, is the basis of communication with our partners from the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Also, I would like to share with you the latest information we have as of now. The negotiations have been interrupted today to be continued tomorrow, at 15:00. But I want to state a very important nuance: it is crucial for the international community and for our CSTO partners to make it clear after all which country has legitimate rights to the territory with such coordinates.
Today a representative of the 102nd Russian military base joined the negotiations with his working maps, and a very important fact was recorded: our maps and the maps of the Russian military base unambiguously confirm our statements about the coordinates of the border. I repeat: it may seem that there is nothing to discuss here, but since the Azerbaijanis, in turn, declare that they have maps according to which this is their territory, and I have already said that we had approved trilateral maps, it is extremely important that today it was recorded that the working maps at the disposal of the 102nd Russian military base indicate that this is the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
What does this mean? It means that this territory comes under the responsibility of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Armenian-Russian Joint Group of Forces. It is important from the military-political perspective as well. Why? As I mentioned above, yesterday we invoked Article 2 of the Collective Security Treaty just because it deals with the threat to security and territorial integrity. Why did we refer to it yesterday? Because we understood that we need to provide our partners with the justification that this is our territory.
Today this has been done, the rationale has been presented, which means that the situation can also be interpreted under Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty, which reads: “Should one of the Participating States come under aggression on the part of third countries, it will be considered aggression against all states parties to the Treaty. In the event of aggression against any Participating State, all other Parties shall, at the request of the affected State, immediately provide it with the necessary assistance, including military support with the resources at their disposal in the exercise of the right of collective defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.
I mean that it may seem that nothing has happened, but it is important to state that specific work has been carried out during this period, and we still have a way to go. Today’s statement is important either: the Republic of Armenia, having assessed the situation, decided first of all to formulate the political and legal side of the issue, so that our position is formulated correctly.
Later yesterday I had a telephone conversation with the President of the Russian Federation, and we discussed the situation. As you may know, today the representatives of the Russian Federation said that I did not ask for military assistance from the Russian President during yesterday’s phone talk, although the existing treaty framework between Armenia and Russia provides for such a possibility.
Why did I not make such a request? For one simple reason: first, our positions are virtually identical. The President of the Russian Federation said that either he believes that the armed forces of Azerbaijan should leave the borders of the Republic of Armenia. And there is a much more important nuance: later yesterday an agreement was reached that today Azerbaijani troops should be back outside the borders of the Republic of Armenia.
I would like to state that the aforementioned arrangement was partially implemented earlier today, that is, there are areas that the Azeri armed forces have already left. But since the agreement has not been implemented in full, today I addressed the President of the Russian Federation, that is, such an appeal was not submitted yesterday because it was recorded at the highest level that the troops should be withdrawn today.
However, since today’s negotiations showed that the agreement was not going to be fully implemented, at least as of today, I turned to the President of the Russian Federation in accordance with the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance of 1997, and the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia on the Joint Group of Troops (Forces). The Russian Federation shall provide assistance to Armenia in this situation, including military support.
Yesterday I had a telephone conversation with the President of France. The French President’s position was unequivocal. Moreover, the French President said he was considering the possibility of discussing the issue in the UN Security Council, and noted that if necessary, France was ready to provide military assistance under the UN mandate as part of international efforts to resolve the issue. I consider it extremely important that the permanent members of the UN Security Council may communicate with each other on this issue. We are closely following the developments, and we have clearly expressed our position.
Dear colleagues, this is just what we have today. I would like to stress that there is a lot of talk about demarcation, delimitation. In general, demarcation and delimitation can take place when there are diplomatic relations between countries. However, given the current situation - I said this to our colleagues from the Russian Federation - we are prepared to see on the spot where our border runs and where we can station our troops.
In general, our idea is (I have spoken about this before) that the borders should be protected by border guards on both sides, while the armed forces ought to be redeployed to their places of deployment. We are ready for such a solution. This means that there will be a specific idea of border points and the respective border guards will solely be present on both sides, which, of course, will mean a completely different military-political situation.
This is the summary of the current situation. In my opinion, the mechanisms set in motion inspire confidence that in this way we can defend our territorial integrity, our sovereignty, our homeland. And let me say that it is crucial for us not to fuel unnecessary passions and resort to emotional displays. We are facing a delicate political situation, and we must refrain from political speculation.
I said that the Azerbaijanis have already withdrawn from some positions, but their presence in our territory continues. Our minister of defense stated that the Armenian armed forces have full control of the situation, that is, all communications in this area are controlled by our troops.
Since we unequivocally consider that this is not a mere attempt to solve a local problem, but a pre-planned large-scale provocation, I believe that our actions have been correct so far, because we managed to control this situation and activate such mechanisms as would demonstrate in practice the efficiency of international agreements on collective security and the arrangements that the Republic of Armenia has with its allies. Thank you.