Ararat Mirzoyan, left, with Antony Blinken

Blinken Lauds Pashinyan’s ‘Flexible’ Karabakh Policy

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WASHINGTON (Azatutyun) — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s conciliatory position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after holding talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan in Washington on Monday, May 2.

He also said that the United States and Armenia are now working to “strengthen and deepen” their relations through a “strategic dialogue” that was launched in 2019 but subsequently suspended due to the pandemic coronavirus.

Blinken and Mirzoyan signed after their meeting a memorandum of understanding on “strategic civil nuclear cooperation” between their countries.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Blinken welcomed “democratic reforms” implemented by the Armenian government as well as its ongoing dialogue with Azerbaijan. In that regard, he expressed “real appreciation for the vision and the courage and the flexibility that the prime minister and Armenia have been showing in this process.”

Addressing the Armenian parliament on April 13, Pashinyan said the international community is pressing Armenia to scale back its demands on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. He signaled Yerevan’s intention to make such concessions to Baku.

The European Union praised the “forward-looking” speech delivered by Pashinyan one week after he met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Brussels for talks hosted by the EU’s top official, Charles Michel. Blinken spoke with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders by phone on the eve of the talks.

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Pashinyan’s discourse stoked Armenian opposition that he has agreed to restore Azerbaijani control over Karabakh. Armenia’s leading opposition groups launched late last week daily street protests aimed at toppling the prime minister.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mirzoyan and Blinken discussed, among other things, planned negotiations on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty and the upcoming creation of a commission tasked with demarcating the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

These issues were also on the agenda of Mirzoyan’s separate meeting with US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland held in Washington earlier on Monday.

“In this context, the Foreign Minister of Armenia stressed the importance of resuming the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship,” read a statement issued by Mirozyan’s press office.

The group dealing with the Karabakh conflict has long been led by the United States, Russia and France. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on April 8 that Washington and Paris stopped cooperating with Moscow in that format following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. US and French officials have not denied that.

Lavrov also accused the West of trying to hijack Russian efforts to broker peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan as part of the ongoing geopolitical standoff over Ukraine.

Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Russia key role in the peace process in a joint declaration issued after their face-to-face talks held on April 19.

In a further sign that Moscow wants to wrest back the initiative in that process, Lavrov has reportedly offered to hold a trilateral meeting with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts next week. Mirzoyan accepted the proposal in an April 29 phone call with Russia top diplomat.

 

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