Premier Pashinyan on May 22

Pashinyan Speaks to Parliament Group about War


YEREVAN (Armenpress) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered a speech before the parliamentary select committee probing the causes and course of the 2020 war at the committee on June 20. He spoke about the negotiations and what ultimately cause him to sign the ceasefire agreement.

There were several proposals for ceasefire, he added.

The November 9, 2020 ceasefire agreement was the fifth attempt to end the war, Pashinyan said. The first such  conversation took place on October 7, when Pashinyan phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on the latter’s birthday. Putin attached importance to Pashinyan’s willingness to compromise. Putin told Pashinyan that he wants to mediate for a swift end of hostilities.

“I told him that I agreed and asked under what conditions the hostilities would end. Our understanding was that hostilities had to end without preconditions, the sides had to stop at their present positions, followed by talks on which compromise the parties agree to. I said that this option was acceptable for us. I had a second phone call with the Russian President later on that day, and he said that he had talked with the Azerbaijani President, but the latter had told him that he wasn’t ready to go for a ceasefire, meaning he didn’t agree to establish ceasefire,” Pashinyan said.

President Putin told Pashinyan that he’d talk with the Azerbaijani President again the next day.

The next day, Putin told Pashinyan that Azerbaijan had a precondition for a ceasefire: it expects Fizuli to be surrendered without a fight, and that Armenian forces must retreat from along the Araks River to the Khuda Afering reservoir, so that the reservoir stays under Azerbaijani control to be able to take water for irrigation. In addition, the Azerbaijani leadership expected to repatriate two convicts that were serving prison terms in Nagorno Karabakh for kidnapping and murder.

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“Furthermore, and end to hostilities wasn’t being declared for this, but simply a humanitarian ceasefire, to organize the burial of the dead, without any condition or obligation on not resuming the fighting afterwards. I said that the preconditions were unacceptable because we agreed with the Russian President that a ceasefire was to be established without preconditions. And moreover, even if I were to agree to the retreat of troops there was no guarantee that Azerbaijan wouldn’t continue its offensive during the retreat,” Pashinyan said.

Putin told Pashinyan on October 9 that Azerbaijan was ready to establish a ceasefire starting October 9-10. The foreign ministers of the two sides were invited to Moscow for discussions, and the exchange of captives and bodies of the dead was also supposed to be discussed. Pashinyan said he agreed to the offer.

The Kremlin then published a statement. After this statement, Pashinyan ordered the military to maintain the ceasefire. But after a short pause, Azerbaijan launched a more intense attack, bombarding Stepanakert, Martakert and assaulting Hadrut.

“Of course, the troops were ordered to take every necessary action to stop the Azerbaijani attack, but simultaneously diplomatic efforts were underway in the direction of the Moscow document on establishing a ceasefire. The deployment of Russian military observers on both sides of the line of contact for monitoring the situation was being considered. But Azerbaijan was constantly avoiding going for such a solution and was intensifying its military operations,” Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan said that the October 19, 2020 proposed deal to end the war envisaged the deployment of peacekeepers in Meghri to ensure the connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan, but he rejected the proposal because he did not approve an extraterritorial corridor to be created in the territory of Armenia.

“The peacekeepers were supposed to be deployed not only in Karabakh and along the Lachin Corridor, but also in Meghri, to ensure connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. I did not agree to this, I did not agree for a corridor, a layer not under Armenia’s control to emerge in Armenia’s territory. I said that I agree to a road but not a corridor,” Pashinyan said.

The Armenian PM said he maintains the same stance — the roads must be opened, Azerbaijan’s western regions must have the opportunity of connection with Nakhichevan, but this cannot constitute an extraterritorial corridor, the road must be under Armenian sovereignty and jurisdiction.

Putin had said in an interview that under the October 19 option Shushi was to remain under Armenian control, but that he had rejected the proposal.

Pashinyan said that the fall of Shushi played a crucial role in signing the 9 November 2020 trilateral statement.

He said what mattered was not only the symbolic but also strategic value of Shushi. After the fall of Shushi, Stepanakert would be targeted, the pressure on Martuni would unavoidably become stronger, and there would be a risk of nearly 25,000 Armenian troops being besieged.

The next session of the will take place on June 27, during which lawmakers will have the chance to ask questions to Pashinyan.


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