Pasinyan: obstacles on the road to peace in Nagorno Karabakh
by Vladimir Rozanskij

In an interview, the Armenian premier on the knots that remain open after the Washington meeting between the foreign ministers of Yerevan and Baku. "Mutual recognition of territorial integrity must also include the rights of Artsakh Armenians. Reducing the distance between the positions is not enough to reach an understanding'.

Yerevan (AsiaNews) - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan has given an interview to Radio Azatutyun, during his visit to Prague in recent days, trying to explain what the difficulties to be overcome in the negotiations, which have been at the centre of the talks in Washington between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, with American mediation, really are.

In Prague, and previously in Soči, the principle had been established that the two conflicting countries recognise each other's territorial integrity, but this failed to translate into a final peace treaty. Pašinyan demands that 'Azerbaijan recognises 29,800 square kilometres of our territory, including Nagorno Karabakh', respecting the rights of the Armenian population living there.

The premier of Yerevan notes that "any agreement, even one that has been drawn up in an impeccable manner, knows different readings by the parties: how can we arrive at a unified reading?".

In order to observe the conditions for peace, a careful elaboration of local and international mechanisms is needed, especially regarding the withdrawal and positions of the armed forces on the ground, with the shared delimitation of a 'de-militarised zone'. "If the distance between the parties used to be one kilometre and is now 990 metres, this is already progress, but it does not really change the state of affairs."

Armenia is trying to support the discussion on the security and rights of the Armenians of Artsakh, as they call the region, in a direct confrontation between Baku and Stepanakert, the capital of Karabakh with its own political representation, which is not recognised by the Azeris.

Without this dialogue, the efforts of Russia's peacekeeping forces are in vain, as is the invocation of protection by France or the United States. This was discussed in Washington, and Pašinyan hopes that the talks can continue in Moscow, denying that there are any Western plans opposed to those of the Russians. 'Sometimes I read news or interviews in the newspapers that make me think that something is missing, even though I am the prime minister,' he commented.

'Different approaches' do indeed resonate in the discussions, but one then has to evaluate what is put in writing, such as the proposal submitted by the Russians in August 2022 and rejected by Azerbaijan: 'We did not see any other proposals on the table, from Moscow, even at the Soči meeting'. Baku, on the other hand, has addressed a request to the UN that Armenia return "the eight villages still occupied", but Yerevan replies that "Azerbaijan has itself occupied other Armenian villages", and eventually a mutual return of these settlements should be achieved.

As Pašinyan explains, 'the villages are not just local government buildings, they are people and families living in Berkaber, Vazašen, Ajgeovit, Paravakar. If the Azerbaijanis give them back to us, we are ready too, but not to disappear; we will have to fix the areas where the control forces will be stationed, in short, we must draw the borders'. First the peace agreement is concluded, then the displacements and new delimitations will begin, but 'Aliev does not seem willing to give Nagorno Karabakh real autonomy, as he repeated during the 44-day war'.

During the election campaign in the last elections that reconfirmed Pašinyan as Armenia's leader last year, his Civil Accord party actually stated that the goal was the 'de-occupation of Šuša and Gadruta, and the self-determination of the people of Artsakh'.

Now the premier recalls that 'we have been talking about independence and self-determination for 30 years, but we often fail to fully understand how to achieve this goal. He admits that several mistakes have been made, and 'this is not because mistakes are related to the office one holds, but because we are men: if the prime minister of Armenia were a god, all problems would be solved in an instant'.