No peace deal without addressing Karabakh conflict, Stepanakert says, countering Pashinyan’s remarks

By Mark Dovich

Karabakh’s Security Council released a lengthy statement Monday preemptively rejecting any peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan that does not address the Karabakh conflict.

“Taking into account the importance of the interests of the Armenians of Artsakh as an inseparable part of the Armenian people, we emphasize that any document that would ignore the existence of the Karabakh conflict…is unacceptable for us,” the statement read in part.

“We are ready to conduct negotiations with Azerbaijan on settling the conflict, if a full-fledged format of negotiations, where the Republic of Artsakh is recognized as an equal party, is restored,” it continued. “As long as the Republic of Artsakh is not included in the conflict resolution process…the Republic of Armenia is obliged and authorized to represent and protect the rights and interests of the people of Artsakh.”

Karabakh’s Security Council said it released the statement in response to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s proposal in a primetime interview last week to “separate” resolving the Karabakh conflict from reaching a peace deal with Azerbaijan.

It added: “The Republic of Artsakh’s position has always been clear: The Karabakh conflict should be settled on the basis of the full and non-negotiable recognition of the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination and the results of its realization…The fact that the Republic of Artsakh is not recognized internationally does not mean that the people of Artsakh have no natural rights or that the Republic of Artsakh does not exist.”

In addition, the Security Council called out Azerbaijan for using force “to realize its most ambitious aspirations” and “to abort any formats and efforts to settle the Karabakh conflict by declaring that it has solved the issue by war.”

The Security Council also reiterated calls made last month by Karabakh President Arayik Harutyunyan for the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh to remain there indefinitely, saying, “The Russian peacekeeping mission, despite the additional challenges of the last few months, continues to be the main international guarantee of the security of the people of Artsakh.”

“Within this context, we consider the attempts to worsen traditional relations with natural allies as extremely dangerous,” the statement added, ostensibly referring to Russia.

The weeks since Azerbaijan’s unprecedented assault on Armenia last month have seen a number of senior Armenian officials, including Pashinyan, criticize Russia in unusually strong terms for failing to come to Armenia’s defense.

The Armenian Times, a newspaper closely linked to Pashinyan, published an anti-Russian article Tuesday arguing that Russia wants Armenia to be “as vulnerable as possible so that it attaches itself to Russia as tightly as possible.”

The article cites only an unnamed “credible source,” who is widely believed in Armenia to be Pashinyan himself.