By Joshua Kucera
The Armenian government is effectively conceding that Armenians will not be able to retain control of Nagorno-Karabakh, paving the way for Azerbaijan to regain full sovereignty over the territory and boding an uncertain future for the area’s current ethnic Armenian residents.
The concession has not been made explicitly, but rather via a conspicuous shift in official rhetoric from Yerevan.
After Azerbaijan in mid-March offered a new framework for resolving the conflict, which included a mutual recognition of the territorial integrity of both countries — which would in effect mean Armenia recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh — Armenia said it did not object, adding only that it also expected some “guarantee of the rights and freedoms” of the Armenians living there.
“For us, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not a territorial issue, but a matter of rights,” Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said.
That followed statements in recent months that were less explicit, but in the same vein, by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. He has emphasized that the United Nations recognizes Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan and said the rights of the former Azerbaijani residents of the region had to be respected.