The main government buildings in Stepanakert, September 7, 2019

Karabakh Leaders Warn Pashinyan

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By Susan Badalian and Artak Khulian

STEPANAKERT (azatutyun.am) — Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership on Thursday, April 14, criticized Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and warned him against helping Azerbaijan regain control over the Armenian-populated territory.

“Any attempt to incorporate Artsakh into Azerbaijan would lead to bloodshed and the destruction of Artsakh,” said Davit Babayan, the Karabakh foreign minister. “And after the destruction of Artsakh there would be no Republic of Armenia.”

Pashinyan said on Thursday that the international community is pressing Armenia to “lower a bit the bar on the question of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status” and recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. He signaled Yerevan’s intention to make such concessions to Baku, fueling more opposition allegations that he has agreed to Azerbaijani control over Karabakh.

Babayan said Pashinyan’s remarks caused a “wave of discontent” in Karabakh. He said he believes that they are also unacceptable to most residents of Armenia as well as the worldwide Armenian Diaspora.

“We have no bars anymore, we have only red lines drawn by blood,” added the Karabakh official. “Our red line is that we will not be part of Azerbaijan. This is out of the question.”

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Pashinyan, he went on, is wrong to claim that “the whole international community is against us.” “Even if the whole international community is against us … we will still fight till the end,” said Babayan.

The Karabakh parliament debated the implications of Pashinyan’s statement at an emergency session held later on Thursday. In a resolution adopted by it unanimously, it demanded that the Armenian authorities “abandon their current disastrous position.”

“No government has a right to lower the negotiating bar for a status acceptable to Artsakh and the internationally recognized right to self-determination under the pretext of peace,” reads the resolution.

Arayik Harutiunyan, the Karabakh president, discussed the matter with with local politicians and civil society members during separate meetings held in Stepanakert on Wednesday. He stressed that the Karabakh Armenians will not give up their right to self-determination.

Meanwhile, Pashinyan defended and reaffirmed his stance when he again addressed the Armenian parliament on Thursday.

“What I’ve been saying is all about not surrendering Karabakh … If we follow a difference path we will surrender Karabakh,” the Armenian prime minister told lawmakers.

“I have the impression that there are people who dream about seeing the population leave Karabakh as soon as possible,” he said. “No, what we are saying is that the people of Karabakh must not leave Karabakh, the people of Karabakh must live in Karabakh, the people of Karabakh must have rights, freedoms and a status.”

Pashinyan again declined to specify what that status should be.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly ruled out granting Karabakh any status of autonomy, let alone recognizing its de facto secession from Azerbaijan. Aliyev maintains that Baku put an end to the Karabakh conflict with its victory in the 2020 war.

Pashinyan and Aliyev met in Brussels on April 6 for talks on an Armenian-Azerbaijani “peace treaty” hosted by Charles Michel, the European Union’s top official. Aliyev said after the talks that “Armenia is renouncing territorial claims” to his country.

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