ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan took part in the regular session of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Heads of State Council here.

On October 14, the Foreign Ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan met. The sides discussed the implementation process of the agreements reached by the trilateral statements of November 9, 2020, January 11 and November 26, 2021, touched upon the work within the framework of the commissions on border delimitation and border security, as well as in the direction of unblocking economic communications and transport infrastructures in the region.

During the meeting, they exchanged views on the development of the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty and the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan emphasized the need for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, the immediate release of all Armenian prisoners of war and the unconditional observance of the ceasefire regime. The introduction of international mechanisms for monitoring and controlling the border situation was highlighted in terms of preventing new aggressions.

Pashinyan expressed his anger at the Azerbaijani argument, supported by Russia, that the borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan are fluid.

“As you know, we are working towards normalization of our relations with Azerbaijan. I consider it necessary to mention the importance of the role of the CIS in this context. The work of border delimitation and border security commissions is important in the settlement process, the formation of which was agreed upon on November 26, 2021, during the trilateral meeting of the President of Russia, the President of Azerbaijan, and the Prime Minister of Armenia in Sochi.

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“As a result of our meeting with the President of Azerbaijan held in Prague on October 6 with the mediation of the President of France and the President of the European Council, an agreement was reached that in the delimitation process we will rely on the fundamental documents of the CIS, according to which the former administrative borders of the Soviet republics became state borders between the already independent states, including between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“Does the CSTO recognize the state borders of the CIS countries established in 1991 as fundamental documents of the CIS? This is an important issue, because it is about the zone of responsibility of the CSTO and, let me say, the functionality of the organization itself. If we rely on comments according to which there are no borders between the CIS countries, because these borders are not delimited, it means that the zone of responsibility of the CSTO is not determined, that is, it does not exist. And that blurs the CSTO’s functionality.”

Pashinyan also called out Azerbaijan for unprovoked attacks on Armenia.

“On September 13, Azerbaijan launched a totally unprovoked military aggression against Armenia. Using heavy artillery, rocket launchers and attack drones, the Azerbaijani military shelled 36 settlements and communities of the sovereign territory of Armenia, including the cities of Goris, Jermuk, Vardenis, Kapan, and Geghamasar settlement. I would like to clearly state that this was not a border conflict or clash, but a direct, unquestionable attack against Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This aggression of Azerbaijan was discussed in the UN Security Council, the majority of whose members condemned Azerbaijan’s illegal military operations. The aggression was also condemned by the international community.

“The Azerbaijani attack was deliberately directed against the civilian population and vital civil infrastructures. The total number of temporarily displaced persons from Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor and Syunik provinces of Armenia was more than 7,600, mostly women and old people, as well as 1,437 children and 99 disabled people.

“About 192 residential buildings, 3 hotels, 2 schools, 1 medical facility were partially or completely destroyed. 7 electricity supply facilities, 5 water supply facilities, 3 gas pipelines, 1 bridge were damaged. 2 ambulances and 4 private cars were targeted. The Kechut reservoir was also shelled.

“The number of victims and missing persons as a result of the aggression has now exceeded 210, of which 3 civilians were killed and 2 are missing. 293 servicemen and 8 civilians were injured. The number of missing soldiers is 28,” he said.

He also noted that it was Azerbaijan itself which boasted of the torture it has inflicted on Armenian civilians and soldiers. “The Azerbaijani side itself spread shocking videos of torture, mutilation of the bodies of captured persons or already dead soldiers, numerous cases of extrajudicial reprisals and cruel treatment of Armenian prisoners of war, murders, as well as humiliating treatment of the bodies of the dead. The bodies of Armenian female servicemen were mutilated with particular brutality, and then ‘proudly’ filmed by Azerbaijani soldiers. The footages of these apparent war crimes and crimes against humanity are being shared and praised by a number of Azerbaijani social media users.

“Undoubtedly, the perpetration of such indescribable atrocities is a direct consequence of the long-lasting policy of the political leadership of instilling hatred against Armenians and enmity in the Azerbaijani society,” he noted.

And, he stressed, the danger is far from over for Armenia.

“After this attack, the rhetoric of official Baku and other Azerbaijani sources shows that Azerbaijan has intentions to occupy more territories of Armenia, which must be prevented. I would like to emphasize that the risk of new aggression by Azerbaijan remains very high, especially considering that Azerbaijan continues to consistently violate the ceasefire regime, trying to attribute their provocative actions to the Armenian side. Another factor of further escalation may be the inadequate response of the regional security organizations to the created situation, which has caused very sharp questions in the Armenian society,” he said.

Azerbaijan, he stressed, played by its own rules, sacrificing Armenian POWs in the process.

“Since the signing of the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020, Azerbaijan has constantly speculated over the issue of repatriation of prisoners of war in order to achieve political interests,” Pashinyan said.

“In the post-war period, Azerbaijan linked the release of prisoners with the provision of maps of minefields, although the obligation arising from the trilateral declaration consisted in the immediate exchange of absolutely all prisoners. Armenia provided Azerbaijan with all the minefield maps it had, but it was a gesture for our part. After receiving all minefield maps, Azerbaijan stated that the accuracy of these maps is only 25 percent. Armenia has expressed readiness to verify this statement with the involvement of international experts. On the other hand, even if this claim is true, the Republic of Armenia has given all of its maps to Azerbaijan and has no ‘better or more accurate’ maps left behind,” he complained.

“Now, after receiving the maps, Azerbaijan is trying to condition the return of prisoners of war, captives and other detained persons with the clarification of the fate of those missing as a result of the first Nagorno-Karabakh war. I would like to mention that after the first and second Artsakh wars, there were also missing persons from the Armenian side. 777 people are considered missing after the first war, and 217 people are considered missing from the second war, of which 196 are military personnel and 21 are civilians,” he added.

The Karabakh mines were placed by Azerbaijan for the 1990s war. Said Pashinyan, “Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani side, which for 30 years rejected offers of cooperation in the field of demining or any other humanitarian activities, remembered its missing citizens or mines only after the aggression against Nagorno Karabakh and after that the whole civilized world started talking about the military crimes carried out by the Azerbaijani military, or about Armenian prisoners of war held illegally in Azerbaijan.”

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, left, meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov

And lastly, he lashed out against the repeated calls by Azerbaijan and Turkey for access through Armenia, to link Nakhichevan with Turkey.

“In the context of the unblocking of all regional communications, Azerbaijan’s constant circulation of the ‘corridor topic’ is nothing but a distortion and sabotage of the implementation of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020. I would like to emphasize that the word ‘corridor’ is not mentioned anywhere and in any way in Article 9 of this statement. In the statement of November 9, 2020, the word corridor is used only in connection with the Lachin corridor in the context of ensuring the security of Nagorno-Karabakh and has nothing to do with the topic of unblocking transport links, and we consider drawing any parallels between these agreements to be manipulative.

“Manipulation of the text of the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020 has unfortunately become Azerbaijan’s policy, and this is also reflected in that despite the fact that the statement clearly mentions the existence of Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan claims that Nagorno Karabakh does not exist,” he said.

He concluded, “I officially announce that we are ready to open the roads as soon as possible on this basis. Moreover, the draft decision of the Government of the Republic of Armenia to open three checkpoints to ensure the transport connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan has been in official circulation for a long time, but the president of Azerbaijan himself speaks against such a decision. … Azerbaijan is trying to create the impression that the construction of new roads is the obligation of Armenia, but the trilateral statement says that the parties must agree on this issue. And we are ready for such an agreement, moreover, we are interested in it, and the only thing we expect from Azerbaijan in this matter is constructiveness.”

He concluded, “I would like to say that Armenia is really sincerely aiming for peace in the region. Of course, this is not a simple issue, it is a very deep issue, but it seems to me that based on the results of several meetings we had with both the mediation of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, and other international leaders, we have come to a common understanding that we should strive and undertake concrete steps to establish peace and stability in our region. It is obvious that actions are needed for this, and the Republic of Armenia, I think we have shown it, our government is ready for such actions. I want to say once again that the only expectation from Azerbaijan in that process is constructiveness.”


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