The November 9, 2020 declaration recorded 3 key realities: the existence of the Nagorno Karabakh entity, the existence of the contact line and the existence of the Lachin Corridor guaranteeing the connection between Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia. The reference of the Prime Minister at the Cabinet meeting
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A regular Cabinet meeting took place today, chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Before discussing the agenda, Prime Minister Pashinyan referred to the situation created in and around Nagorno Karabakh in the recent days, the implementation of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020 and the recording of the security institutions of Nagorno-Karabakh by that, the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping force and a number of other issues.
In his speech Nikol Pashinyan particularly said,
“Dear participants of the Cabinet meeting, dear compatriots.
As you know, the situation in and around Nagorno Karabakh has extremely escalated in the recent days. As a result of the fights, 19 servicemen of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army were injured and two servicemen were killed. Let’s respect the memory of the fallen servicemen with a moment of silence. (The Government observes a minute of silence in honor of the fallen soldiers).
Thank you. We wish the wounded servicemen a speedy recovery.
Dear participants of the Cabinet meeting, dear compatriots.
A number of events that are happening these days and that happened before this bring to light questions of a systemic nature. I have said many times that the presence and activities of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh are a key factor in ensuring the security of Artsakh Armenians and we highly appreciate the efforts of the Russian Federation in ensuring security and stability in our region.
A number of events that have taken place in Nagorno Karabakh since November 2020, including the events of the last few days, raise questions among the Armenian public about the content and nature of the peacekeeping operation in Nagorno Karabakh. The capture of the villages of Khtsaberd and Hin Tagher and the capture of Armenian servicemen by Azerbaijan in the presence and with the permission of the peacekeepers of the Russian Federation on December 11, 2020, the capture of the village of Parukh in Nagorno Karabakh on March 24, 2022, again in the presence of the peacekeepers of the Russian Federation, the continuous and deteriorating violations of the ceasefire regime along the contact line, the cases of physically and psychologically intimidating the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in the presence of the peacekeepers are simply unacceptable. In this context, it becomes very necessary to clarify the details of the peacekeeping operation in Nagorno Karabakh.
This was necessary from the beginning, along with the deployment of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh. But it should be admitted that this process was hindered by Azerbaijan, refusing to sign the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh, while the Republic of Armenia did it in November 2020, and we expect that the mandate, signed in a bilateral format, will work in full.
In addition, there are a number of institutional issues related to the topic. In particular, in the third point of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, it is clearly stated that there is a contact line in Nagorno Karabakh, along which the Russian peacekeeping forces are deployed. That area is called the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping troops in Nagorno-Karabakh. And we expect that any attempt to cross the contact line will be stopped by the Russian peacekeeping troops, and the Azerbaijani units inside the contact line will be withdrawn.
Returning to the topic of the mandate of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh, I must reiterate that in our opinion, the signatures of Armenia and Russia are sufficient for implementing that mandate in full force. And if not, then it is necessary to take measures to establish that mandate internationally, or to endow the peacekeeping mission with a wider international mandate. I don't want to reveal too many working details now, but these issues have been of our concern since November 2020, we have made efforts to reach concrete solutions, and now these efforts must be doubled and tripled.
Dear participants of the Cabinet meeting, dear compatriots,
No matter how much the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020 is criticized, it envisages important security institutions for Nagorno Karabakh. First, the entity of Nagorno Karabakh was recorded, which Azerbaijan is still trying to deny, saying that Nagorno Karabakh does not exist. By the way, such statements from Azerbaijan are a gross violation of the trilateral declaration.
Second, it was recorded, as I said, that there is a line of contact and thirdly, the Lachin Corridor, which ensures the connection of Nagorno Karabakh with Armenia. In fact, today's struggle of Azerbaijan is against these three institutions, and it is our expectation that, as stipulated by the trilateral declaration, the Russian peacekeeping force will not give Azerbaijan the opportunity to undermine these three institutions recorded in the trilateral declaration.
Today, Azerbaijan constantly talks about the Defense Army of Nagorno-Karabakh, why they are stationed along the contact line. If the Russian peacekeeping troops and Azerbaijan guarantee the integrity of the contact line, I think the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army will not have the need to carry out combat duty.
That necessity arose only after Azerbaijan refused to sign the mandate of the peacekeepers and continuously violates the provisions of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, including the cessation of all military operations, which is the core point of the above-mentioned document. Azerbaijan also continuously speculates about the presence of Armenian Armed Forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. I have to record officially that there is no serviceman of the Republic of Armenia in Nagorno Karabakh.
Dear attendees, dear compatriots,
For the current escalation, Azerbaijan uses the issue of the new route of the Lachin Corridor as an excuse, as if it has completed the construction of the new route of the Lachin Corridor and therefore a number of sections of the existing corridor should be handed over to its control. This formulation of Azerbaijan is another gross violation of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, and here is why.
Point 6 of the mentioned statement says (I quote): "The Parties (ie. Russian Federation, Armenia and Azerbaijan) have agreed that a plan for the construction of a new route along the Lachin corridor shall be determined within the next three years, providing communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, with the subsequent redeployment of Russian peacekeeping troops to protect this route." (end of quote).
I have to record that at the moment there is no plan approved by the Russian Federation, Armenia and Azerbaijan in a trilateral format, and we have proposed several times and are still proposing to do that. Note that the statement is not just about the construction of a new road, but about the construction plan and the redeployment of peacekeeping troops, which is a very complex and trilateral process. As of now, we have not agreed to any plan, because no draft of such a plan has been proposed to us. Although, I must emphasize that the Republic of Armenia has started the reconstruction of the Kornidzor-Tegh-M12 highway, which will supposedly connect to the new route of the Lachin Corridor.
But I repeat, this is, I mean the trilateral declaration, not only about the construction of the road. Within the framework of the plan, a number of important issues should be clarified, including issues related to the supply of electricity and gas to Nagorno Karabakh, as well as security issues.
I would like to emphasize that these days Azerbaijan is speculating that the Republic of Armenia is trying to avoid discussing these issues. This is an absurd statement under the conditions that I announced the above-mentioned plan publicly during the online press conference held on June 27. Moreover, Azerbaijan escalated the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh in the days when the actual construction of the Kornidzor-Tegh-M12 highway started, and before that, a public tender procedure was held to select a construction company.
Under these circumstances, the escalation initiated by Azerbaijan has one purpose. The abolition of the structures defined by the November 9, 2020 declaration. Azerbaijan, which considers the November 9 declaration as its victory, has a task today: to abolish that declaration and to avoid the realities recorded by that declaration.
I emphasize again that 3 key realities were recorded with the November 9 declaration. The existence of the Nagorno-Karabakh entity, the existence of the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and the existence of the Lachin Corridor guaranteeing the connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. During this period, we did not highlight these realities, which are written on paper, we did not want to emphasize them too much, but these are realities and these are the international obligations of Azerbaijan.
Today, Azerbaijan is making a lot of noise about the fact that Armenia has assumed obligations with the November 9 declaration. Yes, we assumed obligations and have fulfilled all the obligations we assumed. Azerbaijan must fulfill its three obligations. first, accept the existence of the Nagorno-Karabakh entity recorded by the signiture of the president of Azerbaijan, respect the existence of the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh, and respect the existence of the Lachin Corridor, which is the key institution ensuring the connection of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. Azerbaijan says that Armenia has assumed obligations with the trilateral declaration. Yes, we assumed and have fulfilled it. Azerbaijan is obliged to respect these realities recorded with its signature. If not, then we should include in our agenda the launching of international mechanisms aimed at respecting the commitments undertaken by its own signature, so that by launching international mechanisms, Azerbaijan will respect the commitments undertaken by its signature. I reiterate: 3 key realities. Nagorno-Karabakh, contact line, Lachin Corridor.
This is all I want to say today, although this topic is very extensive, and in the near future we will have occasions to address it again.
In conclusion, I must say although there are currently no active military operations along the contact line of Nagorno-Karabakh, according to the assessment of the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities, the situation remains extremely tense.
We should work towards easing that tension. I would like to emphasize that with all the points of the agreements of November 9, 2020, Armenia is implementing a policy of conducting constructive negotiations in favor of establishing and strengthening peace in the region.
I want to refer to one more topic. Speaking about Armenia's obligations, Azerbaijan says that Armenia has undertaken the commitment to ensure the connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. Yes, we are ready to provide that connection every day during this time. It is Azerbaijan that does not take advantage of the opportunities provided by us. We still say today that in accordance with the procedure established by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia, come, cross the border of Armenia, go to Nakhichevan. Just today. We are ready to ensure the connection right today. We also have a section from last year where there is a customs service point and a border guard point of the Republic of Armenia, and we have told Azerbaijan that at any time they can cross these points and establish connection with Nakhichevan in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Armenia.
Moreover, as for the roads under construction, the trilateral declaration clearly emphasizes that this should happen with the consent of the parties. And we say that we consider discussing the route of those roads as the second issue, the first being the recording and launching the legal procedures. Today, I officially say that today Azerbaijan can cross the border of Armenia at a few sections and organize traffic to Nakhichevan. If we interpret it literally, it is stated that we should ensure the connection of the western regions of Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan. The westernmost region of Azerbaijan is the Ghazakh region, we are ready, let them come, cross, go to Nakhichevan, and we guarantee the safety of that traffic in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Armenia. But that’s not only about Ghazakh, not only in the Ghazakh-Ijevan section. We can provide this in the Ghazakh-Berd, Vardenis section, Sisian section, Yeraskh section. We can ensure this in the Goris section, where we have had the customs control service for a long time. During this period, Azerbaijan never used it, nor did it try to use it. There has been no case when they come, say they want to cross, establish that connection, and we stand in the way. Such a case simply does not exist. But I say again, it is the territory of the Republic of Armenia, and naturally, this should happen in accordance with the procedure established by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia.
As for the point in the declaration about free movement. The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia states that the citizens of the Republic of Armenia have the right to free movement. This does not mean that this free movement should take place by bypassing the legislation of the Republic of Armenia. We must record these realities very clearly and also record them internationally. We have done all this in working conditions, trying to solve all these problems at the working level.
And I'm talking about the contact line. Since November 2020, one of the directions of our work has been how to ensure the existence of the contact line, how to ensure the safety of the contact line? These are issues that should be resolved in the trilateral format. If we see that solutions in the trilateral format are not possible, we should think about launching additional international mechanisms. I say again, in the past, understanding the general situation and not wanting to use it for any propaganda purposes, we did not even raise these details regarding the declaration of November 9, considering that it was a professional work topic and allowing that declaration to be much criticised. But we say that there are three clearly recorded realities under which the president of Azerbaijan signed. Nagorno-Karabakh exists, there is a contact line, and between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh there should be a guaranteed connection through the Lachin Corridor, which should be under the control of Russian peacekeepers. And these three realities must be protected. What is the purpose of the escalation? To eliminate all these three realities. But it is impossible to eliminate these three realities, because it was signed by the president of Azerbaijan, as well as the president of Russia and the Prime Minister of Armenia. This is, in fact, an international obligation undertaken by the Russian Federation, the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan. And we should be guided by these realities, as well as our respective institutions: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our diplomatic service. Of course, we have done this work, and our structures working with international institutions should also record these facts. The perception, international understanding of these realities should increase. And, in fact, it is this cornerstone that will become the basis of peace and stability in the region.
In the other directions as well, for the opening of communications, again, Mr. Abazyan, Mr. Badasyan, I am instructing you once again, I am making this public announcement: ensure that opportunity provided by the November 9 trilateral declaration, also in the Ijevan section, in the Noyemberyan section. Let the Azerbaijanis say where they want to cross, we provide passport control, customs control, and, of course, security, traffic security in accordance with the procedure established by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia, where also with the support of our Russian partners, we can and are ready and will provide all that. We have no doubt about it.
Again, to conclude, I would like to emphasize that with all points of the agreements of November 9, 2020, Armenia implements a policy of conducting constructive negotiations in favor of establishing and strengthening peace in the region.
Now I also assume that there will be talks about the peace agenda, why there is tension, etc., and so on. Because all these actions are directed against the peace agenda. But we will not abandon that agenda and we will not deviate. The declaration of November 9 is a very important institutional basis for the implementation of that agenda, I repeat, based on three main pillars: the record of the Nagorno-Karabakh entity signed by the President of the Russian Federation, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia, the second is the existence of a contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and the obligation of peacekeepers to ensure the integrity of the contact line, and thirdly, the existence of the Lachin Corridor, which is under the control of Russian peacekeepers and the purpose of which is to ensure uninterrupted communication between Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia.
I repeat, this topic is very extensive, there are many details and things to say, but let's conclude today.