Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's concluding speech at the National Assembly during the discussion of the performance report of the Government Action Plan for 2021
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Honorable President of the National Assembly,
Dear Vice Presidents,
Distinguished Members of the National Assembly,
Dear students of 198 Yerevan High School,
Thank you for your earnest discussion. In my opinion, the discussion that took place and is taking place in this hall and outside this hall, is very important.
I would like to comment on some of the reactions after my yesterday’s speech. First of all I want to refer to Serzh Sargsyan's response, because it provided an answer to a very important and key question. Yesterday I presented the chain of events that took place in the period of 1998-2018, and it is not accidental that Serzh Sargsyan referred to only one episode from that 3-hour discussion, saying that he never negotiated over the “step-by-step” option of settlement of the Karabakh issue, and that he, I can even quote, "I have spoken publicly several times about the difference between the “step-by-step” and the “package” solution, and also explained in detail that the package version can not be implemented in a day or an hour, but must be implemented in stages."
In other words, I think the debate on this topic ends here, but I want to draw your attention to one fact: why did only Serzh Sargsyan respond to that episode? Because by the clarification of this episode another fundamental question is solved: the change of power in 1998 was not for the status of Karabakh, not to save Karabakh from something, but to seize power. This is why he referred only to this episode, because the explanation of only this episode, without details, emphasizes that the 20-year history had a completely different context. This is very important today. And it is not accidental that after the war in 2020, Serzh Sargsyan, speaking about 2018, said that at that time, after two terms of presidency, he wanted to remain Prime Minister for the sake of Karabakh issue. Do you understand that they gain legitimacy for everything through the Karabakh issue? But he forgets that he announced from here that he stayed in power to solve the Karabakh issue. How would he solve the Karabakh issue when he said from this same rostrum on April 17, 2018 that the talks are stalled, do not inspire optimism, and Azerbaijan's expectations from the negotiation process are unrealistic and unacceptable for us. Was he going to accept Azerbaijan's unrealistic demands?
Next, he said again from this rostrum that we should not hope for a long time that Azerbaijan will not try to resolve the Karabakh issue by military means. This is the answer to the question of who is really responsible for the war or, so to speak, who is responsible for the war situation. Is our government responsible for the war or not? When I say that yes, war could have been prevented, it is a genre called grotesque, I mean that war could have been prevented by fulfilling those unrealistic, unacceptable demands mentioned by Serzh Sargsyan. Take a closer look at what my text is about.
But let me return to the step-by-step - package discourse. Yesterday, MP Maria Karapetyan presented what the step-by-step version meant back in 1997. Back in 1997, it was planned to divide the issue into parts, first the Karabakh issue, then the peace treaty. The 2018 version envisages the same, the same is for 2016 version. It is very clearly written in that version that these initial principles are agreed upon, and then negotiations between the governments begin, and a very important point - with the participation of the representatives of Nagorno Karabakh. Now we will say what a good thing it is - with the participation of the representatives of Nagorno Karabakh. It’s here that saying the representatives of Nagorno Karabakh would mean Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijanis of Nagorno Karabakh. And that is where the Azerbaijanis of Nagorno Karabakh would sit at the negotiating table with that settlement proposal, and there would be no settlement until the issue was resolved, until the Shushi issue was resolved, which has been on the table since 1996. Would Serzh Sargsyan surrender Shushi? If not, there would be war. And not only Shushi. Would he surrender some parts of Karabakh? They say the Lachin corridor should have been like this. There is nothing in any negotiating document on the width of the Lachin corridor. It had to be discussed later. And yet another point has been added to this step-by-step proposal: the status of Nagorno Karabakh or the current status of Nagorno Karabakh was to be decided at the Security Council session. And today they say that we surrender, surrendered or want to surrender Karabakh. If we wanted to surrender Karabakh, we would continue the negotiation logic left by Serzh Sargsyan till the end, which would lead to surrendering Karabakh, because even if a referendum had to take place, it had to take place within the time limits agreed between the parties. I have talked about these details, now I do not want to go into more details. Azerbaijan said very clearly that at least in the next 50 years there will be no referendum, they said let the Azerbaijanis return to Karabakh, live together for 50 years, side by side, the Azerbaijani settlements will be inhabited, they will return for 50 years, 100 years, then after 100 years we will see, they did not agree to any other condition. Now we are told that we have surrendered Shushi. No, the war was for Shushi.
They say we should have stopped the war, or prevented it - did we not think about stopping or preventing the war? It was not possible to stop or prevent the war without Shushi, it was simply not possible. I have said this several times, and our soldiers who fell, Glory to them, they fought for this right. They fought for the opportunity not to surrender Karabakh, what I am talking about is about not surrendering Karabakh, dear colleagues. Note, it’s about not surrendering, because if we go the other way, we will surrender Karabakh. The incidents of Parukh are a good example, piece by piece. It is enough to deceive each other.
There are a lot of discussions since yesterday, people are asking what I said, what my speech meant. I also thought about my yesterday’s speech, what it meant and, I am sorry for I have to evaluate my speech myself, but, yes, I have a clear assessment of my yesterday’s speech. With that speech we opened a space for the Republic of Armenia, for Artsakh, because during the whole negotiation process of the previous period, Armenia and Artsakh were deprived of political and diplomatic space. We are opening a path for Armenia and Artsakh. We are opening a path for Armenia and Artsakh to preserve statehood. Because exotic thoughts are voiced, those thoughts are voiced as a threat that if something does not happen in this or that way, we will take out the people of Karabakh from Karabakh or the people of Karabakh will leave. There is an impression that there are people who dream that the people leave Karabakh as soon as possible. No, we say that the people of Karabakh should not leave Karabakh, the people of Karabakh should live in Karabakh, the people of Karabakh should have rights, freedoms, status in Karabakh․ That's what we are talking about, and yes, we have opened that space. Our martyrs fell in order to open a perspective for Karabakh and Armenia, because since 1998, with that step-by-step-package versions, the Armenians had been deprived of that space.
We are paving the way to get our people, thousand apologies, out of the status of a sacrificial lamb, and finally, ok, let’s understand why that war happened, and why the war of 2016 did not take place earlier. It was not us to decide whether the war should be or not, we did not decide anything. I am standing at this rostrum today and I say no, Armenia is a sovereign state, we must return the right to making decisions over things, because we are a country, not a cowshed. We are country, we are citizens, we are not sacrificial lamb for others to decide how much and how to slaughter us and how much to forgive us. We are a state, we are a nation, we are sovereign, yes we are self-respecting, and yes, we are bleeding, but we have dignity and we will not allow someone else to decide or take away our rights by manipulating us, introducing models of patriotism, telling us that we have to be patriotic in the way that is in our interests. We must be patriotic in the way that is in the interests of these children. I don’t know what they are told, I even don’t know what their teachers tell them, but today I tell them that I will not allow our generations to be kept in the status of a sacrificial lamb. We speak so much that we were massacred, subjected to genocide, well, will not we finally understand the deep-rooted reasons behind that?
How much is it possible to play on the emotions of the victims? I kneel and kneeled at the tombs of the victims, and I know and I said for what our martyrs fell. They have fallen to force us not to allow to be kept in the status of sacrificial lamb for centuries. We are a state, we are a country, we are citizens, we are a proud people, we have millennia-old history, but we must write and learn our history ourselves, instead of allowing others to write our history and deliver us that history.
A very correct assessment was made: does Azerbaijan want peace or to what extent what we say is acceptable for Azerbaijan? These are very grounded concerns, but it is about something else. When I say that we have opened a space before us, I mean, well, in the end, we have to bring issues to the agenda, we have to fill the regional agenda with content. That’s part of the same process. It is enough to constantly impose agendas on us, do you understand that we have never imposed any agenda? Why and how much land have we preserved? We have preserved as long as and as much as it has been to the benefit of many others. Let's understand this, well, how long will this continue? It’s again Good Friday and The Bible says “You will listen and listen, but never understand; you will look and look, but never perceive”. It is enough, we have looked so long, let us see, we have listened so much, let us perceive.
Because now we are not talking about ongoing things, we are talking about being or not being of Armenia or Artsakh. Armenia and Artsakh, by the way, this is very important, they are not just pieces of land, because all the former pieces of land of Armenia still exist on the planet. Armenia is people, it is a status, it is a state, it is a subject of international legal relations. This is what we want. And, yes, there is a lot of aggression around us, that aggression is not just where we see it, that aggression is in many other places. What to do about this aggression? We have to manage that aggression. That aggression must be managed, there is no other option.
And I'm glad we had this discussion. A very important question was raised. They say, bring back the conscript servicemen, take the contract ones to the border. But I am sorry, if a war breaks out, those conscripts must all go to the front line. We do not want to take away the conscripts, replace them with the contract soldiers, we want to bring everyone back, because we want to have a border and border guards. Dear people, today they say that they ensured peace. As long as there is a soldier on the border, it is not peace. Peace is when there is a border guard at the border, and issues are settled through border marks, not positions, fortifications, heights, caution from snipers. We had about 1,000 casualties during the so-called peace period, some in non-combat conditions. This is not peace.
This is what I want to say, and I want to say thank you for the discussion, because it was so important. By and large, we must say that this content that I presented was born and fermented as a result of our many discussions, debates, conversations. There was a lot of talk about this speech, and now the names of the victims is much speculated, our martyrs are being manipulated a lot. I just want to end the speech, the discussion of this issue, with a minute of silence in honor of our martyrs, our homage to them, because the agenda we propose is the most important way to honor their memory, to pay due respect to their sacrifices.