Pashinyan recognises Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan

Pashinyan recognises Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan
"How clearer can I be?" said Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews May 22, 2023

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made it clear on May 22 that he has agreed to recognise Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh as part of a peace treaty that Yerevan and Baku are currently discussing. This was Pashinyan’s first clear public statement on his policy in the negotiations. 

"If we and Azerbaijan correctly understand each other, Armenia recognises Azerbaijan's 86,600 sq km territorial integrity, assuming that Azerbaijan recognises Armenia's 29,800 sq km territory," Pashinian said, repeating statements made following his May 14 meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Pashinyan emphasised "the 86,600 sq km includes Nagorno-Karabakh".

"But it must also be noted that we are saying the issue of the rights and security of Karabakh's Armenians must be discussed in a Baku-Stepanakert format," he added.

When asked to clarify his government's position on Karabakh, a visibly infuriated Pashinyan said that all former Armenian administrations have recognised the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. This is a line Pashinyan and his government frequently use, referring to the 1991 Almaty Declaration, but this has no legal bearing since it has never been ratified. 

"How clearer can I be?" Pashinyan said.

In addition, Armenia would cede control over Tigranashen in the Ararat region and seven villages in the Tavush region, which are not included in the 29,800 sq km. In return, Armenian would get back Artsvashen from Azerbaijan. Those territories exchanged hands in the early 1990s war. 

Pashinyan furthermore underscored the need for the "creation of international mechanisms" for such talks between the Azerbaijani government and Karabakh's leadership. Yerevan, he explained, is explicitly seeking international guarantees against "ethnic cleansing" in the Armenian-populated region, which he said is planned by Baku.

While voicing readiness for dialogue with Baku, the authorities in Stepanakert have repeatedly rejected any settlement that would restore Azerbaijani control over Karabakh.

During Brussels-hosted talks earlier in May, Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev confirmed their unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration and the respective territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

In a joint statement, Armenia's leading opposition group of five political parties warned Pashinyan against formally recognising Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan. They said such a deal would be "devoid of legal basis".

Despite this warning, Pashinian made clear that he hopes to sign the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty "as soon as possible". He said that Yerevan presented Baku with fresh proposals after marathon talks held by the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers outside Washington earlier in May.

"We are now waiting for their response," added the Armenian prime minister. He did not elaborate on those proposals. 

Pashinyan and Aliyev are scheduled to meet again in Moscow on May 25. It was also reported that on June 1 that they will hold a meeting in Moldova which will be attended by European Union chief Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.