Yerevan Still Reluctant To Clarify Stance On Karabakh’s Status

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By Astghik Bedevian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Two days after the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan reportedly made progress during talks in Brussels, the Armenian government again declined to clarify on Tuesday whether it recognizes Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Charles Michel, the European Union chief who hosted the talks, said Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev “confirmed their unequivocal commitment to … respective territorial integrity of Armenia (29,800 square kilometers) and Azerbaijan (86,600 square kilometers).”

The total Soviet-era area of Azerbaijan cited by Michel includes Karabakh.

“Negotiations are ongoing on the provision of international guarantees for ensuring Nagorno-Karabakh’s rights and security,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mnatsakan Safaryan repeatedly told reporters as they pressed him on the implications of Michel’s statement.

Safaryan said Armenia always recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. “So there is nothing new here,” he said.

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The diplomat did not clarify whether Yerevan will explicitly recognize Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan in a peace treaty currently discussed by the conflicting sides.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Moscow later this week for further talks on the treaty.

Meanwhile, Armenian opposition leaders continued to portray Michel’s remarks as further proof of Pashinyan’s readiness to help Baku regain control over Karabakh.

“86,600 square kilometers means Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan,” said Armen Rustamyan of the opposition Hayastan alliance.

Pashinyan has not yet made any public statements on the Brussels summit held on Sunday. In recent months, he has publicly encouraged Karabakh’s leaders to negotiate with Azerbaijan while accusing Baku of planning to commit “genocide” in the Armenian-populated region.

The authorities in Stepanakert have repeatedly denounced Pashinyan’s comments on the conflict with Azerbaijan. In a joint statement issued on April 19, the five political groups represented in the Karabakh parliament again accused him of undermining the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination which was supported by international mediators for decades.

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