Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's speech in the National Assembly regarding the situation created as a result of the military aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan
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Honorable President of the National Assembly,
Dear members of the National Assembly,
You already know from the media that in the midnight, in fact, the armed forces of Azerbaijan launched offensive operations against the Republic of Armenia in 4 directions, later 2-3 more directions were added. And Azerbaijan is trying to present that these actions were in response to some provocations by the Armenian side, but we must unequivocally record that this information is absolutely false, a lie and does not correspond to reality at all. And in my speech today, I will try not only to record a number of facts, but also to present the context of the issue, why all this is happening.
As of now, we have 49 victims confirmed by the Ministry of Defense, but I must also record that this number, unfortunately, is not final. I want to emphasize that the official news should be checked and rechecked before being published. This is the reason why we, also taking into account the painful experience we had in the past, do not publish any information about the identity of the dead soldier or officer until we are fully confident.
I must record that our soldiers, officers, our army fought selflessly, heroically and also paying tribute to our fallen soldiers and officers, I must emphasize that our statehood, our independence and sovereignty is based on that type of individuals. And as long as there are such people who are ready to put their lives in danger, even sacrifice for the sake of the motherland at a decisive moment, it means that the Republic of Armenia has and will have sovereignty, the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian statehood will exist, will be lasting, and the people of the Republic of Armenia will be able to be proud of his children.
Virtually, as of now, the intensity of combat operations has decreased, but Azerbaijan's attacks in 1-2 directions still continue. The Ministry of Defense, General Staff is assessing the situation, assessing the losses, and the adjusted information will be officially published.
I mean, basically, from the moment we learnt about the attack, members of the Security Council were invited to me, and a meeting of the Security Council took place, a meeting, a discussion, which continued until dawn. The President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly participated, and based on the results of that discussion, we made a decision to apply to the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and a session of the CSTO Permanent Council is now taking place on the occasion of that application. We also applied to the Russian Federation on the basis of the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, and we decided to appeal to the UN Security Council to discuss the situation urgently.
During the night, I had telephone conversations with the President of the Russian Federation, the President of France, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The Minister of Defense had a conversation with his Russian counterpart, and we are now working to stabilize the situation as quickly as possible.
Today, I think it is necessary to have a non-emotional and bold conversation, and in this context I consider it important and I am not here just to publish facts, because these facts will be available to the public one way or another through the media or some of them are already available to the public. It is very important to clarify the context of what is happening - why all this is happening.
First of all, let's record that all the claims that the Armed Forces of Armenia resorted to some kind of provocations, and that Azerbaijan's actions were in response to the actions of the Armenian Armed Forces, are totally false. In the recent days, I think you have observed that the Azerbaijani side was constantly spreading information in the logic of information warfare, so to speak, about the attacks allegedly carried out by the Armed Forces of Armenia. The Ministry of Defense, of course, was denying all this, because it had nothing to do with reality. And so what has happened and what is happening?
First of all, of course, it is related to the negotiation process of the Karabakh issue. You all remember that in March 2022, Azerbaijan presented 5 proposals regarding the peace treaty and offered to sign a peace treaty based on that. Our response to that was that there is nothing unacceptable to us in those proposals, but we believe that those points need additions, and on the basis of those additions, we are ready to negotiate and sign a peace treaty if we agree on the relevant points. Of course, at the beginning it seemed that there was an understanding on the topic, but over time, and particularly during the last meeting in Brussels, it became clear that, nevertheless, Azerbaijan refuses to hold peace negotiations based also on the principles presented by us.
You remember that there were several points in those principles. one of them was adherence to the principles of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, statements of January 11, and November 26, 2021, reference to those principles, declaration and statements. The next important point concerned the security, rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the status deriving from it. The next important point concerned the security, rights and status of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Basically, the position of Azerbaijan, which is expressed or was expressed during the negotiation process, is as follows. they said that they do not want to discuss the Karabakh issue with Armenia, because their position is that the Karabakh issue is resolved, or at least it is an internal issue of Azerbaijan, an internal issue, and they do not want to discuss this issue with the Republic of Armenia.
But the story does not end here, because we have said before and we say that, as I emphasized, one of the principles proposed by Azerbaijan, for example, which refers to the mutual recognition of territorial integrity, is not unacceptable to us and is acceptable. And everything does not end here, because the need for additional clarifications arises. For example, what do we mean by saying territorial integrity? That is, for example, by saying territorial integrity of Armenia, does Azerbaijan mean as well as the territories that were occupied by Azerbaijan either as a result of the events of May 12, 2021 or during the first Karabakh war? Does Azerbaijan also talk about these territories of the Republic of Armenia? This question, at least according to our impressions and discussions, definitely does not receive a response from Azerbaijan.
The next problem is the following. naturally, Azerbaijan expects the Republic of Armenia to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan, which logically stems from their emphasis I mentioned a while ago, that is, from the formulation of their position.
The next question that arises is the following: Let’s assume that after the solution of these two problems, if theoretically there is such an understanding, does this mean that Armenia and Azerbaijan or, in particular, Azerbaijan does not or will not have any territorial claim against Armenia? In the context of the conversations and the recording of political positions, Azerbaijan says that it has no territorial claims against the Republic of Armenia. But when there is a conversation, for example, about the process of demarcation and delimitation, it becomes obvious that Azerbaijan is going to raise certain issues in the context of the processes of demarcation and delimitation, with its wording and description "in an illegal way", please pay attention to its wording of allegedly "illegal way", regarding some territories handed over to the Republic of Armenia and they mention the names of those territories in their public speeches, talk about those territories. Although, by and large, we should also note that when interviews or announcements with such content are made, they sometimes start from Nrnadzor, continue with Zangezur or Syunik Marz, and end with Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. I want to emphasize that if these were just interviews and statements, we could not even mention them, but all the facts, including diplomatic and negotiation facts, prove that this is a consistent policy of Azerbaijan.
As for the Nagorno Karabakh issue, I already said that their position is becoming more and more clear that there is no Nagorno Karabakh issue, the Nagorno Karabakh issue is solved, and therefore there is no need to discuss it with the Republic of Armenia. And they can discuss this issue with international organizations, it is also not excluded, according to their wording, with the representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians within the framework of the constitution of Azerbaijan.
Again, I don't want to say that these actions are specifically aimed at the solution of this or that issue I mentioned, but I want to say that these events, tension in general has a background, and the background consists of a certain content, and I need to, I consider it necessary to present that content to you and our people.
The next is the topic of opening communications, and you know that Azerbaijan, distorting the statement of November 9, 2020, is talking about having corridors or a corridor through the territory of Armenia. The context of the question regarding corridor is clear, and I don't think it is necessary to further clarify.
Our position was and continues to be as follows. We are not going to provide a corridor through the territory of the Republic of Armenia to anyone, but we accept and are even interested in the opening and unblocking of roads through the territory of the Republic of Armenia, with the logic that all the countries of the region, including Armenia, including Azerbaijan, can use these roads. If you remember, it is clearly stated in the trilateral declaration of November 9, article 9. In fact, the first sentence is also about unblocking, that is, about unblocking, opening, reopening of economic and transport communications, routes, connections of the region. You also know that the issue is clarified by the trilateral statement of November 26, 2021, and it is recorded what actions should be taken to implement Article 9 of the trilateral declaration of November 9. We have said and continue to say that the logic that was discussed and recorded in the trilateral statement of January 11, 2021 and also in the trilateral working group is acceptable to us. You also know that the Russian co-chair of the trilateral working group, Alexey Overchuk, made a public statement in Armenia that the agreements of the working group are about that the newly opening roads should operate under the sovereignty of the countries through which they pass.
The next nuance that I would like to mention so that the context of what is happening is more understandable to us, is the following: After the 44-day war of 2020, Azerbaijan has stated several times that if it sees that the Armed Forces and the Army of Armenia are gathering a certain potential, which, according to its wording, may threaten Azerbaijan, they will carry out offensive actions. Despite what we have declared, and it is also recorded in our official documents, we are undertaking reforms of the Armed Forces not to capture or conquer territories, but to protect and preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia. However, at the stages when we, so to speak, focus on the theme of the Armed Forces and army reforms, at those times such provocations are also carried out to hinder the process with the already announced agenda, and this is one of the important nuances․
The next important nuance, which I would like to talk about, is that, however, after the 44-day war of 2020, no matter how many different statements were made about it, even inside Armenia, it is obvious that as a result of that war, yes, we suffered heavy losses, but the Republic of Armenia was not broken as a result of that war. Moreover, in the conditions of the atmosphere and socio-psychological environment that existed at that time, in fact, the trilateral declaration of November 9 was presented in a certain, so to speak, very negative light in the Armenian environment and in Armenia, and it is not so that we were happy or we are happy with that statement. I had not referred to that topic for a long time, but recently I considered it important to emphasize that there is an important 3+1 institutional recording in that declaration.
The first is the registration of the Nagorno-Karabakh entity, in the conditions when Azerbaijan says that Nagorno-Karabakh does not exist. But we have an active document under which Azerbaijan's signature is also placed, where it is recorded that there is Nagorno Karabakh, that Nagorno Karabakh entity is enclosed by a certain line, which is called the contact line in the document, there are Russian peacekeepers stationed, the reason and logic of their presence is that is to ensure the safety of the line of contact, therefore of the territory, and therefore of the people living in the territory, and there is the Lachin Corridor, which ensures the traffic, that is, the unhindered traffic of people, goods, communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
I want to mention the following nuance. You are aware that recently the Secretary of the Security Council and members of the National Assembly visited Nagorno-Karabakh, which once again received a reaction from Azerbaijan. We have recorded it before and we must record it now that the trilateral declaration clearly states that the purpose of the existence of the Lachin Corridor is to ensure the connection between Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia, the movement of people and goods. And Azerbaijan's similar positions are not logical at all, because in that declaration there is no restriction on who can go to Nagorno Karabakh and who cannot go to Nagorno Karabakh.
A number of our international partners have raised this issue and spoken about this before. Why do I want to say this? Because in the recent actions, it is noticeable that Azerbaijan is trying, so to speak, to remove from circulation and to give archival significance to the trilateral declaration of November 9. In the context of these provocations, this aspiration and purpose is also evident.
The next, no less important, in my opinion and in my estimation, circumstance that continues what I said in this part is that, nevertheless, it is obvious that despite the global difficulties, Armenia has very clear and certain economic success. In this context, of course, not directly, but I consider it very important that the Economic Freedom Index was published a few days ago, where the Republic of Armenia ranks 11th among 165 countries in the world. And this provocation also aims to break the economic dynamics of Armenia, because the economic dynamics are not just statistical numbers, they are also certain opportunities for development and improving the state of affairs.
There's a question that I guess will come up, and I want to address that question. The question is the following: Is this the result of the peace agenda, and is what is happening not a failure of the peace agenda? We have repeatedly said that by adopting the peace agenda, we also note and understand that it does not depend on just one entity. And, on the contrary, with these actions, Azerbaijan also wants and actually torpedoes the peace agenda, because peace is the environment in which the Republic of Armenia can develop, and at a high pace. Peace is the environment that can ensure the security of the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. In my speech I recently delivered in Vladivostok, referring to the topic of peace in general, I made a record, and there was no exaggeration in that record, because we have monitored that the representatives of Azerbaijan also say that they want peace. We also say that we want peace. Now a question may arise: who is not being very sincere here, and who is not, in fact, expressing his true desires and motivations with these statements? I have to reaffirm - I also understand that it may seem a bit strange to say that everyone basically wants peace. The problem is that by saying peace each subject or groups of subjects understand a specific set of conditions, by saying peace they mean their understanding of peace and its conditions. And peace does not happen when those conditions and understandings either do not coincide or it is not possible to bring them close enough to a state and status of near coincidence.
This is the current situation. What should we do next? Basically, we must go this way: we must protect the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of the Republic of Armenia by all possible means. We must strive for peace by all possible means, trying to bring perceptions closer. We must reform our army, our Armed Forces as quickly and effectively as possible by all possible means to ensure the security of the Republic of Armenia. And of course, improving the mechanisms, relationships and obligations in our alliances and our security relations is extremely important in this context because it is very important, as I said before, to be clear about who has what obligations to us and what obligations we have to others.
That's it, dear colleagues.
I say again, for me, one of the most urgent and relevant parts of speaking from this rostrum was not only to present the recorded facts, but also to present the context of those facts. Basically, I said everything on this topic, also taking into account that for some understandable reasons there is an information vacuum about the ongoing processes, developments, content of negotiations, their nuances.
It is very important that, especially at this stage, the people of the Republic of Armenia, the National Assembly, are aware of the ongoing nuances. Of course, I have to note one detail: it is not the first time that what I said is being heard by our colleagues in the National Assembly. We have had many meetings with the representatives of the "Civil Contract" faction, we had discussions, sometimes heated discussions. We have several times expressed our willingness to discuss and answer all the raised questions with the representatives of the parliamentary opposition, including in a closed-door format. I mean, this is perhaps the first time that a number of nuances have been officially voiced from the rostrum of the National Assembly, although there are generally no secrets in them, because a careful observer and analyst could see and notice all these nuances, but I voiced officially and in such a combined manner so that the situation, its nuances and depth become clearer.
Now I am ready to answer all your questions, because I think that what I said not only answered questions, but also raised questions.