Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

YEREVAN (ARKA) —  In a video address to the citizens of the country, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Tuesday, November 10, admitted his mistakes on the Karabakh issue.

“If there were failures, it means that I was wrong somewhere, but it is necessary to understand when and in what circumstances, especially in the current situation,” Pashinyan said. He said after assuming the post of prime minister and looking deeper into the status of negotiations on the Karabakh settlement, he had to tell the people that the Armenian side was to return five districts without specifying the status of Karabakh or there would be a war.

‘Why didn’t I say it then? Because I wanted to try to change the logic of the negotiations, which I failed to do. The reason is that the surrender of districts was the only specific topic in the negotiations that was not in doubt. [It was] the only topic that did not have discrepancies and, in fact, was an established reality,” he said.

“Even if I said that the situation was like this, no one would say that it was good and that everyone was waiting for it. No one would say, let’s quickly return the districts. Everyone would disagree and I would also say ‘no’ and the result would be the same.

“If the war had happened earlier, the results would have been worse for various objective and subjective reasons.  It was possible to prevent the war, but then it was necessary to say that at least five districts should be surrendered without specifying the status of Karabakh. I didn’t say it because I didn’t want us to surrender that way. I believed that we could fight for our rights and the rights of the people of Artsakh and now I believe too. If I had said on September 1-2 that it was necessary to act this way or there would be a war, the people would not agree.

“When I made a statement about painful mutual concessions, it caused a harsh reaction. Armenian society would say that they would fight and defend the rights of people. The result would be a war.  Why didn’t I make a decision earlier? At the beginning, the war went on quite successfully for the Armenian side and, in fact, the condition for preventing the war did not change – the return of five districts without specifying the status of Karabakh.

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“Why didn’t I say it earlier? Because I believed that we could fight. I tried to do my best. If I had said it, the Armenian society would not agree to peace in exchange for five districts, and after the start of the war, it would have been not five, but already seven districts.  Why was no decision made at one of the stages?  We wanted to turn the tide. A painful decision was made when it was already obvious that we did not have the opportunity to turn the tide of the war. We were tasked with avoiding the worst.

“In retrospect, we can say that if a year ago we had agreed to return five districts, the situation would have been better than now, and this is true. But who would have believed in Armenia that this is the right path? There are very few people and I would not have believed it either. As a result, it would have turned out that we gave up without a fight and did not try to fight. My analysis shows that I was wrong, but can this be considered a mistake and does this lead to responsibility? I am fully responsible, personally, regardless of all the circumstances, but for me and everyone, these decisions were impossible. The fact is that our army in this war fought to the end and selflessly, our soldiers, officers, generals and many others.

“There are myths that this is due to foreign policy nuances. This problem also existed in 2016. In this context, it is not connected with foreign policy, but with the international perception of the situation around Karabakh. And the international perception is as follows: seven regions must be returned to Azerbaijan and, unfortunately, we could not resist such a perception when they perceive the Karabakh conflict as a territorial dispute.

“For the development of the army over the past 2.5 years, we have implemented numerous measures; perhaps in the context of this war, not all steps were effective. But in the past 2.5 years, the army has always been the focus of the authorities’ attention. We couldn’t invest as much as we wanted. I have repeatedly spoken about tax liability in this context. Yes, we were unable to generate enough funds from corruption cases, at least 1-1.5 billion drams, and direct them for military purposes, but the plan was and remains,” according to Pashinyan.

“What is left to us in this situation? Concentrate on strengthening Armenia and Artsakh — economically, intellectually, in the field of education, fixing that we fell, but did not kneel, we stood to the end, to the last line and made a decision on it so as not to fall into the abyss.  It was a painful decision, but it was necessary and inevitable, otherwise the situation would have been much worse. I am personally responsible for all this and continue to be responsible. I believe that this is a great tragedy for us, but I believe that Armenia and Artsakh must live. We must become stronger and perhaps, having slightly revised our perception on some issues, try to learn lessons. They must be constructive and serve our Motherland, people and future.”

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