Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Pashinyan Proposes Nonaggression Pact With Azerbaijan

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By Shoghik Galstian and Ruzanna Stepanian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Armenia is ready to sign a nonaggression pact with Azerbaijan and give other “guarantees” to Baku, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Sunday, January 28.

“We are ready to give such long-term and irreversible guarantees but expect the same guarantees from others,” he reiterated during an official event to mark the 32nd anniversary of the official establishment of Armenia’s armed forces.

In that context, Pashinyan pointed to a mutual withdrawal of Armenian and Azerbaijani troops from the border between the two countries which has been proposed by Yerevan and categorically rejected by Baku.

“We have also proposed to Armenia a demilitarization of the border and also a mutual mechanism for arms control and also the signing of a nonaggression agreement if it turns out that the signing of a peace treaty takes longer than expected,” he said.

The Azerbaijani government dismissed the proposals on Monday.

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Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev demanded safeguards against Armenian “revanchism” in December, saying that an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty would not be enough to preclude another war between the two countries. Pashinyan expressed on January 20 readiness to meet this demand if Azerbaijan recognizes Armenia’s territorial integrity through that treaty “without any reservations.”

Pashinyan tried hard to negotiate the peace treaty after explicitly recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh about a year ago. He kept pressing for such an agreement even after Azerbaijan recaptured Karabakh and forced its entire population to flee to Armenia last September.

“The Republic of Armenia should identify itself with the territory on which it was recognized by the international community… We must state clearly and unequivocally that we do not and will not have any claims to any other territory, and this should become the strategic basis for ensuring Armenia’s external security,” Pashinyan said on Sunday.

The premier signaled on January 18 plans to try to enact a new Armenian constitution for that purpose, prompting scorn from opposition groups.

Commenting on Pashinyan’s latest statement, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry claimed that the current Armenian constitution contains “encroachments on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.” Instead of taking concrete steps to eliminate them, the Armenian government is voicing “proposals that make no practical sense,” a ministry spokesman said, adding that Yerevan is not serious about normalizing Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

Azerbaijan remains reluctant to formally recognize Armenia’s current borders. In early January, Aliyev renewed his demands for Armenia to open an extraterritorial corridor to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. He also demanded Armenian withdrawal from “eight Azerbaijani villages” and again dismissed Yerevan’s insistence on using the most recent Soviet maps to delimit the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Pashinyan rejected those demands, saying that they amount to territorial claims to Armenia. His foreign minister, Ararat Mirzoyan again spoke last week of “significant regression” in Baku’s position on the peace deal with Yerevan. Armenian opposition leaders insisted, for their part, that Pashinyan cannot prevent another Azerbaijani attack on Armenia with what they see as additional concessions offered to Aliyev.

Lilit Galstian, a parliament deputy from the main opposition Hayastan alliance, said on Monday that the latest Armenian proposals to Baku revealed by Pashinyan are further proof of the failure of his declared “peace agenda.”

“Nikol Pashinyan … constantly throws out thoughts, new ideas which once again subject our society to further stress,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Not only has the peace process failed, but we keep hearing aggressive rhetoric by Azerbaijan.”

Pashinyan’s government is engaged in “inadequate behavior” in the face of Azerbaijani war preparations, she said.

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