During a question-and-answer session with the deputies in the National Assembly on August 24, in response to the observation that the wording in the “Civil Contract” pre-election program was clearer than in the five-year government program, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan referred to the vague wording about Artsakh in the government program.
In particular, Pashinyan noted that the government program is aimed at promoting the creation of a proper environment for the negotiation process, in accordance with the joint statement issued by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in late July.
“And we, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, welcomed the statement of the Minsk Group, and we…” If we say that the negotiation process should be resumed within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship, we should take steps in that direction, and respond to the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group. What is written in the pre-election program is written in the pre-election program, what is written in the government program has been done to create a favorable environment for the negotiations to the extent possible,” Pashinyan stated.
Eleven months after the war, the Fact Investigation Platform compared the differences between the rhetoric of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Statement by the OSCE Minsk Group
The statement of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, referred to by Nikol Pashinyan, was made on July 29 of this year and refers to the tensions along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. “The Co-Chairs reiterate the need for a negotiated, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement of all remaining core substantive issues of the conflict and urge the parties to return to negotiations under the auspices of the Co-Chairs as soon as possible. They reiterate their proposal to organize direct bilateral consultations under their auspices, in order for the sides to review and agree jointly upon a structured agenda, reflecting their priorities, without preconditions”, the statement says.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia welcomed the statement of the Co-Chairs. “We are confident that the specified assessment of Azerbaijan’s actions will help to overcome the current tense situation,” the MFA statement reads.
The Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan regularly announced during the pre-election campaign and after the elections that the government has received a mandate to “open an era of peaceful development” in the region. Official Yerevan’s statements referring to Azerbaijan so far mainly refer to the invasion of the Azerbaijani armed forces in May and border tensions, as well as the need to resolve the conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship.
Prime Minister Pashinyan also proposed his own plan to start the demarcation works, according to which the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces shall mutually withdraw troops from the border line, and international or CSTO observers shall monitor the border until the demarcation works are completed. Although this proposal was approved by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, Azerbaijan did not respond in any way.
According to Nikol Pashinyan, unblocking the transport links in the region is also a priority for Armenia. “Azerbaijan obstructs this process not only with obvious threats to occupy Armenia’s sovereign territory, but also, despite its commitments, refuses to provide Armenia with a corridor for the launch of the Armenia-Georgia, Azerbaijan-Russia railway,” Pashinyan said in July. Regardless, Armenia will continue to “pursue efforts” to unblock transport links.
The issue of the recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh after the end of the war and the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination is a topic of political debate.
The program presented by the new government enshrines the exercise of the right to self-determination on the basis of several vital elements for the settlement of the conflict, including self-determination.
The section on Artsakh in the government program consists of only 4 points.
The article of the Fact Investigation Platform on the differences between the government program and the pre-election program of the Civil Contract Party can be found here.
On the evening of August 25, the Azerbaijani armed forces closed a section of the Goris-Kapan interstate road, which came under Azerbaijani control after the end of the war. Speaking about the incident, Prime Minister Pashinyan mentioned that Syunik is not cut off from Armenia, as there is an alternative, not yet asphalted road. “We need to have the nerve, we should not think that in a day, an hour, 6-7 months we will be able to create a fully stable environment. For that very reason, the primary task of the government program is to stabilize the situation around Armenia and Artsakh. [․․․] We should clearly state that we are moving forward with the peace agenda,” Pashinyan stated.
During a meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator in Azerbaijan on August 24, Aliyev once again accused the OSCE Minsk Group of inaction, saying that the latter should have imposed sanctions on Armenia in previous years. “If sanctions were imposed on Armenia at the right time, if the Minsk Group co-chairs, the three world superpowers, used 5% of their potential to persuade or force Armenia to withdraw its occupation forces, there would be no war. Therefore, the responsibility for the war lies not only with Armenia, but also with all those who could not or did not want to compel them to obey international law,” he said.
After the end of the war, the Azerbaijani side has repeatedly stated that the talks on the Karabakh conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group are meaningless.
The issue of signing a peace agreement with Armenia is also on the foreign policy agenda of Azerbaijan. “If Armenia wants peace, then we also need a peace agreement. If Armenia wants a war, it will get the same result as last fall. If Armenia wants peace, it must hold demarcation talks. If they do not, they will regret it,” Ilham Aliyev said in June.
The Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan did not personally respond to Aliyev’s statements, the Foreign Ministry responded to a similar statement on the peace agreement in spring.
In the aftermath of the war, in parallel with the calls for peace, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev makes belligerent statements and statements on the future of Nagorno Karabakh within Azerbaijan without any status.
In addition, Aliyev has stated that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved, and called for an end to the use of the term “Nagorno Karabakh” and replacing it with “Karabakh”.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly called for demarcation work, but has not spoken about reducing border tensions and withdrawing troops from the line of contact. Referring to the border tension, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan issued the following statement: “Armenia still has territorial claims against Azerbaijan, does not want to accept that Azerbaijan has restored its territorial integrity within its international borders. [.․․] Sustainable peace can only be achieved on the basis of respect for international law.” «
Interestingly, in an interview with CNN, Aliyev admitted that Azerbaijan started the 44-day war. And a few days later, the latter announced that Armenia was making false accusations about invading the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, that the territory of the Sev Lake, where the Azerbaijani armed forces are stationed, is Azerbaijani. “We have returned to our land, Garagyol (Sev Lake – Ed.), it is ours, the other territories are also ours. We returned. That area was with the Armenians for 30 years. If the border passed through the area that the Armenians were talking about, then why didn’t they stay there, what happened? When we came and stopped, they announced that we were not in our place. We are standing where we need to be. If we want, they will stand where we want.”, Aliyev stated.
Long before Aliyev’s statement, more than a dozen French and US MPs, as well as MPs from the European Parliament, openly called on Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from Armenia and begin the demarcation talks.
To sum up, a year after the war, Azerbaijan continues to speak of peace in the language of threats and ultimatums, unlike Armenia, which is taking clear steps to resume talks and start the peace process.