Turkish Press: Yerevan agrees with Baku on ‘principles’ of peace deal: PM Pashinyan

Daily Sabah, Turkey
Feb 12 2024

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he was hopeful for a peace deal with neighbor Azerbaijan last year, but the deal has yet to emerge. He, however, pointed out that the two sides had agreed on the "architecture and principles" of a peace treaty.

"The architecture and principles of the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been agreed upon … but from the beginning, Azerbaijan three times refused to participate in negotiations in different formats, after which presidential elections in Azerbaijan were scheduled," Pashinyan said in an interview with The Telegraph aired on Sunday, the transcript of which was shared by Pashinyan's office. The Armenian leader said that he assumed that they would be able to finalize an agreement after the presidential election in Azerbaijan "if there is political will."

He further said Yerevan "has the political will" to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan based on previous agreements between the two countries. He said he has neither denied nor rejected cooperation with Russia in general and particularly in the security sector.

"What does this mean? Does this mean that we are going to break our security relationship with Russia? No, it doesn't mean that, but it means that in the field of security, we are preparing and are ready, and we are discussing and working to establish relations, for example, with the European Union," Pashinyan went on to say. He added that Armenia's security relations with the U.S., France, India or the EU are not directed against Russia, but rather "a consequence of the reality that the security relationships we used to have in the past do not address our security needs." He also denied discussions on NATO membership, saying that Armenia is "at least a de jure member of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization)."

Armenia's ties with the EU are deepening and it is ready to be "as close to the European Union as the European Union deems it possible," he added.

Pashinyan went on to neither confirm nor deny that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be arrested should he visit Armenia, commenting on a question on whether Yerevan will do so after having formally joined the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as of Feb. 1. "There are various opinions and legal analyzes on that topic, and in particular, the lawyers who say that the current heads of state have immunity, insurmountable immunity, due to their status are not just a few. I mean, it's a legal issue, not a political issue that I have to discuss and respond to," he said.

In the meantime, Azerbaijan on Monday summoned the EU's ambassador to Baku over the activities of the bloc's mission in Armenia. "During the meeting, the serious concern was reiterated with regard to the activities of the EU Monitoring Mission in Armenia (EUMA) that contradict the initial agreements with respect to this mission and activities," said a statement by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.

The meeting noted the EU mission is being exploited as an "anti-Azerbaijani propaganda tool," contrary to its purpose of "contributing to stability in the region and confidence between Azerbaijan and Armenia," according to the statement. It further said Ambassador Peter Michalko was told that the EU mission facilitated the visits of different European officials and unofficial delegations to the border areas between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and that it became an agent of "binocular diplomacy."

"All such visits, without exception, are used for disseminating anti-Azerbaijani hate and replicating unfounded Azerbaijan-phobia," the statement noted, adding that this "binocular diplomacy" came at an unprecedented calm situation along the border.

"Moreover, the recent case of prevention of an attempt of illegal crossing through the areas of responsibility of the EUMA casts a serious shadow over the declared tasks of the mission. Such concerning actions by no means conform with the declared goals of EUMA of contributing to trust and confidence as a neutral actor," it said.

It concluded that the EU side was urged to take all necessary measures to ensure the mission acts "strictly as a neutral, civilian and unarmed mission in line with its declared mandate, and refrain from any activity that would target Azerbaijan's sovereignty, territorial integrity or in any other manner affect its legitimate security interests."

The Council of the EU established the EUMA in January 2023 to secure the border areas of Armenia and "ensure an environment conducive to normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU."

Also on Monday, Azerbaijan’s National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) said Armenia presented eight new maps of minefields in the Karabakh region, which was liberated following a 44-day conflict between the two sides in the fall of 2020. ANAMA told Azerbaijan’s state news agency Azertac that the maps it was provided mainly consist of notes on mined areas surrounding the Murovdag mountain range in the country’s Kalbajar district. The report further said the information in the newly submitted maps is "inaccurate, unreliable and incomplete.”

"After analyzing and processing the forms, it was determined that the recorded data does not overlap with the real minefields, and the coordinates of the reference points are incorrect and useless,” it also said. It added that the maps covered some of the areas along the former contact line and that information has not yet been provided about the part of the former contact line passing through Azerbaijan’s Khojavend, Tartar and Goranboy districts, as well as areas mined by Armenian military units while retreating during the 2020 war.

Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions. Azerbaijan liberated most of the region during the war in the fall of 2020, which ended with a Russian-brokered peace agreement, opening the door to normalization. The Azerbaijani army initiated a counterterrorism operation in Karabakh last September to establish constitutional order after which illegal separatist forces in the region surrendered.

More than 340 Azerbaijani citizens have either been killed or injured in varying degrees due to land mines since the Second Karabakh War.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS