Armenia will take measures to launch international mechanisms for the prevention of genocides. Prime Minister
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A regular Cabinet meeting took place today, chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Before discussing the agenda of the session, the Prime Minister made a speech in which he referred to the ongoing illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor by Azerbaijan and preparations for ethnic cleansing and genocide against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the need to launch additional preventive international mechanisms, and also presented the works being carried out within the framework of the peace process.
Below is the complete transcript of the Prime Minister's speech.
"Dear participants of the Cabinet meeting,
Despite the decision of the International Court of Justice published on February 22 of this year, Azerbaijan continues to illegally keep closed the only passable asphalted road of the Lachin Corridor connecting Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia. As a result, the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh remains tense.
At the same time, we see specific actions by Azerbaijan aimed at militarily escalating the situation on the line of contact with Nagorno-Karabakh. The latest blatant manifestation of this was the killing of 3 Nagorno Karabakh police officers by an Azerbaijani sabotage group on March 5 of this year. Let me remind, the police officers were going to Old Shen and Mets Shen villages of Nagorno Karabakh by passenger car for official purposes.
This incident took place in Nagorno Karabakh in the area of responsibility of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation. It is important to note that the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation clearly stated in its message on March 6 that the initiator of the incident was the Azerbaijani side. The message of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation also states that investigation is underway with the participation of representatives of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan to find out the details of the incident. In this regard, I think special evaluation should be given to the fact that the murder of Nagorno Karabakh police officers took place in the Lachin Corridor.
As you remember, according to point 6 of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, the Lachin Corridor is not only the road blocked by Azerbaijan since December 12, 2022, but also a 5-kilometer wide area, a security zone. Therefore, the murders carried out by Azerbaijan on March 5 constitute a triple violation of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020. not only the ceasefire, not only the contact line of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also the 5-kilometer zone of the Lachin Corridor was violated.
Azerbaijan's state propaganda has been creating a media background for a large-scale attack on Nagorno-Karabakh for a long time, and tensions are also visible on the ground. Our assessment remains the same: the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan sees preparations for ethnic cleansing and genocide against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. This idea is largely present in the decision of the International Court of Justice of February 22, where it was clearly stated that the closure of the Lachin Corridor could bring irreversible humanitarian consequences for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. In this sense, I consider it important and urgent that Armenia takes measures in the direction of launching international mechanisms for the prevention of genocides. I am talking, in particular, about the mechanisms provided for in the UN framework. I have given relevant instructions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about this.
I would like to remind you that the work on sending an international fact-finding mission to the Lachin Corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh continues. I think the fact-finding mission is also important in terms of addressing Azerbaijan's baseless claims that the Republic of Armenia has an army in Nagorno-Karabakh and that military transportations are carried out from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. These claims are groundless, and Azerbaijan is trying to use them as a new pretext for regional military escalation. Therefore, sending an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin Corridor becomes necessary also for this.
As I mentioned in my recent press conference, a conversation on this issue also took place on October 6 in Prague, during the meeting between the President of France, the President of the European Council, the President of Azerbaijan and myself. The President of Azerbaijan insisted that the Republic of Armenia has an army in Nagorno-Karabakh, I insisted that it does not, he insisted that it does. I offered to send an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh to clarify the issue, but the president of Azerbaijan refused.
As you know, there is a Defense Army in Nagorno-Karabakh, and as long as the threat of ethnic cleansing and genocide hangs over the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, the existence of that army is justified. But the Defense Army is not the only mechanism for preventing the genocide of the people of Nagorno Karabakh. The peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh is also such a mechanism.
I would like to remind you that on November 18, 2020, the Federation Council of the Russian Federation adopted a decision on sending a peacekeeping contingent of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to Nagorno Karabakh. In this regard, in the request-letter addressed to the Federation Council, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, mentioned several goals of sending a peacekeeping force to Nagorno Karabakh, I quote: "For maintaining the ceasefire agreement by the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides and the cessation of all military operations, for avoiding mass casualties of the civilian population of Nagorno Karabakh and significant damage to the civilian facilities, I have made a decision to immediately send an army contingent to Nagorno-Karabakh," Vladimir Putin said in his letter addressed to the Federation Council.
The Federation Council used the same wording, the same formulations in the decision adopted on November 18. Thus, we can record that the Russian Federation officially recorded the possibility of mass murder of the civilian population of Nagorno Karabakh and assumed the role of guarantor of the security of the people and civil infrastructure of Nagorno Karabakh.
I have talked about this several times before, but now I want to reiterate. We hope that the Russian Federation will fully fulfill the above-mentioned function, but if our friend and ally, the Russian Federation, cannot fulfill this role for any objective reason, I think that it should apply to the UN Security Council itself, alerting about the danger of mass killings of the civilian population in Nagorno-Karabakh and the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the need to launch additional international mechanisms in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor to prevent this.
Moreover, I do not have any presumptions about the activity of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Just the series of events that happened in the last two years, such as the occupation of Khtsaberd, Old Tagher, the incidents of Parukh, the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the murders of police officers and civilians, regular violations of the ceasefire regime, actions aimed at terrorizing the civilian population are concerning. At the same time, I cannot fail to mention the special role of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation, their contribution to the fact that the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh due to the illegal closure of the Lachin Corridor from December 12 has not turned into a humanitarian disaster, and I want to thank for the efforts aimed at it.
In the developments around Nagorno-Karabakh, it is also worrying that Azerbaijan is doing everything to abort the Baku-Stepanakert dialogue. Contrary to the agreements reached at the international level, after only two meetings, Azerbaijan announces that it will discuss the topic of reintegration with the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. Meanwhile, the international agreement is that the discussion should be about the rights and security of the people of Nagorno Karabakh.
Against this background, the launching of the international mechanism of Stepanakert-Baku dialogue becomes more important, because now it is already obvious that without such a mechanism, the agenda will fail, will be forgotten by Baku. We are also concerned about the fact that another international mechanism defined by point 7 of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, has not been launched yet. Let me remind you that point 7 of the trilateral declaration says, I quote: "Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent regions under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This means that international mechanisms for the return of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh's Hadrut, Shushi, Martuni and Martakert regions, Shahumyan region, Getashen, Lachin and other regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh must be launched, and I have instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start official negotiations on this topic with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
By the way, Armenians from Baku, Shirvan, Sumgait, Kirovabad, Khanlar, Shamkhor, Nakhichevan and other regions of Azerbaijan who have been subjected to ethnic cleansings are also appealing to the state authorities, raising the issue why we are not talking about their rights and returning to their homes accompanied by international peacekeeping forces. The issue is that point 7 of the trilateral declaration of November 9 refers only to the refugees and internally displaced persons from Nagorno Karabakh and the regions immediately adjacent to it. But this, of course, is not an obstacle for representatives of Armenians subjected to ethnic cleansings in Baku, Shirvan, Sumgait, Kirovabad, Khanlar, Shamkhor, Nakhichevan and other regions of Azerbaijan to self-organize and defend their property rights and other rights, including right to return at international platforms.
Dear participants of the Cabinet meeting,
I also want to inform you that we have received the new proposals of Azerbaijan regarding the peace treaty. Thus, we have entered the fourth round of discussion of the draft treaty. We will discuss and present our observations in the near future. We are committed and will not deviate from the peace agenda. At the same time, I must also draw the attention of the international community to the fact that, contrary to point 8 of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, Azerbaijan has not yet returned Armenian prisoners, hostages, and other detained persons, and continues to keep under occupation the sovereign territories of the Republic of Armenia seized as a result of the aggression of 1994, 2021, 2022.