RFE/RL Armenian Report – 05/15/2023


Karabakh Leaders Slam EU

Nagorno-Karabakh - Karabakh Armenians rally in Stepanakert against the 
Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin corridor, May 9, 2023.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership accused the European Union late on Monday of 
turning a blind eye to Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor when it 
reacted to European Council President Charles Michel’s remarks made after the 
latest Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Brussels.

Michel, who hosted the talks between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and 
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, made no mention of the five-month blockade 
that has caused serious shortages of food and medicine as well as an energy 
crisis in Karabakh.

Instead, he urged Baku to embark on a dialogue with “Armenians living in the 
former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast” for the purpose of “guaranteeing the 
rights and security of this population.”

“This fact shows that the president of the European Council not only does not 
hinder but actually encourages Azerbaijan to use the sufferings of the people of 
Artsakh as a political tool,” the Karabakh foreign ministry charged in a 

It said Michel’s remarks also demonstrate that “the EU leadership continues to 
ignore the legal rights and interests of the people of Artsakh and is guided 
only by its own geopolitical and short-term interests in the region to the 
detriment of the values of democracy and human rights proclaimed by the EU.”

The statement added that only international recognition of the Karabakh 
Armenians’ right to self-determination can be “the basis for a sustainable 
settlement of the conflict.”

The Armenian government stopped championing that right a year ago. Pashinian 
subsequently declared that it recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.

Michel implied after Sunday’s summit that Yerevan is now also ready to recognize 
Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh. The Armenian opposition expressed serious 
concern over this declaration, renewing its allegations that Pashinian is 
forcing the Karabakh Armenians to live under Azerbaijani rule.

By contrast, the strongly-worded Karabakh statement contained no criticism of 

Pashinian Under Opposition Fire After Fresh Talks With Aliyev

        • Ruzanna Stepanian

Beglium - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian meets European Council 
President Charles Michel ahead of talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, 
Brussels, May 13, 2023.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian took another step towards restoring Azerbaijan’s 
control over Nagorno-Karabakh during his weekend talks with Azerbaijani 
President Ilham Aliyev, the Armenian opposition claimed on Monday.

The four-hour talks hosted by European Union head Charles Michel in Brussels 
focused on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty sought by Baku.

“The leaders confirmed their unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty 
Declaration and respective territorial integrity of Armenia (29,800 square 
kilometers) and Azerbaijan (89,600 square kilometers),” Michel said after the 

Azerbaijan’s total Soviet-era area cited by Michel includes Karabakh. This is a 
further indication that Pashinian’s administration is ready to recognize 
Azerbaijani sovereignty over the Armenian-populated territory.

Not surprisingly Baku seemed satisfied with the outcome of the latest 
Armenian-Azerbaijani summit. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry emphasized 
“Armenia’s acceptance of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territorial 

Tigran Abrahamian, a senior Armenian lawmaker representing the opposition Pativ 
Unem alliance, said this is consistent with Pashinian’s statements on the 
Karabakh conflict made over the past year.

Pashinian stopped invoking the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination a 
year ago. Since then, he has spoken instead of the need to protect their “rights 
and security.”

Abrahamian described his rhetoric as a smokescreen for “surrendering Artsakh to 
Azerbaijan as smoothly as possible.” The Brussels meeting only highlighted this 
policy, he said.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a key member of the main 
opposition Hayastan bloc, expressed serious concern over Michel’s statement. In 
a statement, the party’s leadership accused Pashinian of helping Baku regain 
full control over Karabakh and force its residents to flee their homeland.

The statement argued that Armenia had signed the 1991 declaration cited by the 
EU chief with reservations relating to Karabakh. It also pointed to a 1992 
parliamentary act that bans Armenia’s governments from signing any document that 
would recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.

Any Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement running counter to that decision would 
therefore be “null and void,” warned Dashnaktsutyun.

“It is obvious that we are entering the final phase of surrendering Artsakh,” 
claimed Vartan Oskanian, who served as Armenia’s foreign minister from 1998-2008.

“If Pashinian's hand is to be grabbed so that he does not sign such a document, 
then now is the time to do that. Otherwise it will be too late,” he wrote.

Andranik Kocharian, the pro-government chairman of the Armenian parliament 
committee on defense and security, downplayed Michel’s remarks on the 
Aliyev-Pashinian meeting.

“Armenia always recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity … but Artsakh has 
its own territory and status,” Kocharian told reporters.

“Today Artsakh is probably the most independent state in the world; [it will 
remain so] for the next three or four years,” he claimed. “We’ll see what 
happens after that.”

In recent months Pashinian has publicly encouraged Karabakh’s leaders to 
negotiate with Azerbaijan while accusing Baku of planning to commit “genocide” 
in the region. The authorities in Stepanakert have repeatedly denounced his 
public pronouncements on the conflict.

Kremlin Upbeat On Russian-Armenian Ties

Armenia - People carry giant Armenian and Russian flags as they mark the 78th 
anniversary of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, May 9, 2023.

Russia’s relationship with Armenia has a “bright future” despite current 
friction between the two allies, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted over 
the weekend.

Peskov described bilateral ties as “advanced partnership” and a “special 
relationship that has deep historical roots.”

“We are convinced that they also have a bright future,” he told Russian state 

“Of course, there are certain sensitive points,” he added without elaborating.

Russian-Armenian relations deteriorated in the last several months mainly 
because of what Yerevan sees as lack of Russian support in the conflict with 

In an interview with the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta published on 
Sunday, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, Armen Grigorian, accused 
Russia of not honoring security obligations to Armenia enshrined in bilateral 
and multilateral treaties.

Moscow is also not supplying Yerevan with weapons despite several defense 
contracts signed by the two sides, he said without going into details. The 
Armenian military has to look for alternative sources of arms supplies because 
“we are not receiving what we ordered from Russia and what we paid for,” added 

The rift between the two nations deepened further in March after Armenia’s 
Constitutional Court gave the green light for parliamentary ratification of the 
International Criminal Court’s founding treaty. The ruling followed an arrest 
warrant issued by the ICC for Russian President Vladimir Putin over war crimes 
allegedly committed by Russia in Ukraine.

Moscow warned that recognition of The Hague tribunal’s jurisdiction would have 
“extremely negative” consequences for Russian-Armenian relations. Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian’s government appears to have refrained from sending the treaty 
to the Armenian parliament for ratification.

Pashinian was among the leaders of several ex-Soviet states who joined Putin in 
attending the May 9 military parade in Moscow that marked the 78th anniversary 
of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Peskov said afterwards that Putin and 
Pashinian held a separate meeting during the celebrations.

EU Envoy Hopes For Armenian, Azeri Troop Withdrawals

        • Anush Mkrtchian
        • Ruzanna Stepanian

Armenia - Andrea Wiktorin, head of the EU Delegation in Armenia, speaks during a 
news conference in Yerevab, .

Not only Azerbaijan but also Armenia should withdraw troops from contested areas 
along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, a senior EU diplomat said on Monday.

Azerbaijani troops seized chunks of what Armenia regards as its internationally 
recognized territory during border clashes in 2021 and 2022. Speaking shortly 
after the deadliest of those clashes that broke out in September, the EU’s 
foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, acknowledged that they “occupied part of 
Armenia’s territory” and demanded their withdrawal from those border areas.

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovannisian said on Monday that Yerevan 
expects to get back a total of 139 square kilometers of land as a result of 
mutual recognition by the two South Caucasus of each other’s territorial 
integrity reaffirmed by their leaders during weekend talks in Brussels.

European Council President Charles Michel, who hosted the talks, said Armenian 
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, agreed, 
among other things, to revive joint efforts to demarcate the heavily militarized 

Andrea Wiktorin, the head of the EU Delegation in Armenia, essentially equated 
Armenia with Azerbaijan when she commented on the matter during a joint news 
conference with Hovannisian.

“It is really important to come to an agreement,” she said. “Actually it is our 
hope that both sides will withdraw their troops and embark on the work of the 
delimitation and demarcation.”

Asked to elaborate on her comment, Wiktorin said: “It was clearly stated [at 
Brussels] that there are one or two spots where also Armenian forces are, let’s 
say, in border areas and there needs to be a very clear delimitation and 

Armenia - Yerevan-based foreign military attaches visit an area in Armenia's 
Syunik province where Armenian and Azerbaijani troops are locked in a border 
standoff, May 20, 2021.

The diplomat did not specify those “spots,” saying that she is not aware of 
further details of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.

Hovannisian seemed bemused by Wiktorin’s remarks. “I also find it hard to tell 
what this is about,” he said.

Andranik Kocharian, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defense 
and security, countered, for his part, that it is Baku that occupied Armenian 
territory after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“What I know is that Armenian troops are where they must be at the moment,” he 
said. “What I know is that Azerbaijani troops violated Armenia’s sovereign 
territory. Again, what is ours is ours.”

In further comments to the press made after his news conference with Wiktorin, 
Hovannisian suggested that the EU envoy referred to several small enclaves 
inside Armenia which were controlled by Azerbaijan in Soviet times and occupied 
by the Armenian army in the early 1990s. Baku wants to regain control over them 
but has yet to clarify whether it is ready to give up a bigger Armenian enclave 
occupied by Azerbaijani forces in 1992.

“It is clear to everyone that at this stage we are talking about [Azerbaijani] 
troop withdrawal from Armenian territory,” stressed Hovannisian.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2023 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.