During a briefing with reporters on December 10, Hovhannes Igityan, a member of the “My Step” faction of the National Assembly, touched upon the format of Artsakh negotiations.
In response to the journalist’s remark that there are allegations according to which if Artsakh returns to the negotiating table, the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh should also participate in the talks, Igityan noted that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan once responded to that allegation.
“Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has stated that he sees no problem that any member of Aliev’s delegation, including the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh, their heirs, people who consider themselves to be Azerbaijani community of Karabakh, come with him as part of the delegation. Anyone… And it does not matter whether they will come or not. Aliyev represents those people because the world knows no other representation but the election method. I mean these people have voted for Aliyev so that he represents their interests”, Igityan said.
Igityan’s words became a subject of speculations in the political and media field.
“Sasna Tsrer” Party issued a statement noting “Current authorities (…) are making a step back resorting to the revival of anti-national concept of putting an equality sign between Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Artsakh.”
And Republican Party spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov wrote on his Facebook page “One of the “My Step” MPs announces Pashinyan’s agreement for the so-called Azerbaijani community to participate in the talks together with Aliev and presents it as a result of proponents of unilateral step-by-step concessions coming to power.
During the “Haylur” program on Channel 5, Igityan’s statement was quoted. The reporter notes: “Igityan also said today that the Prime Minister of Armenia stated that he does not see any problem with the Azeri community of Nagorno Karabakh coming to the negotiations with the president of Azerbaijan. As you know, Armenia has always done its best to ensure that official Stepanakert and the so-called Karabakh community of Azerbaijan are not on a par with each other. “
And politik.am article titled “Hovhannes Igityan’s disclosures shed light on many issues on Karabakh talks” claims that “The return of Karabakh to the negotiating table was foreseen by the Madrid Principles, and this is nothing new. But the question is whether the representatives of the so-called Azeri community in Nagorno-Karabakh should also sit at the negotiating table. This is already a huge concession, which Yerevan has actually made, legitimizing the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Azeri community serving the interests of the Baku-based propaganda machine as a future negotiating party that may be represented at the January meeting.”
What Pashinyan said
Pashinyan stated at a joint meeting of the Security Councils of Armenia and Artsakh held in Stepanakert in March this year that the talks on Nagorno-Karabakh have so far included all interested parties except one.
“In these talks, Azerbaijan is represented by President Aliyev. The latter, by the way, also represents, as he puts it, the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh, because being citizens of Azerbaijan, the representatives of that community participated in the presidential elections in Azerbaijan and, consequently, gave the Azeri president the power to represent them as well” the Prime Minister noted, adding that he represents the Armenian people in those negotiations.
Pashinyan then raised the question on who represents the people of Artsakh in the negotiation process.
“The problem is that there is no authorized, legitimate representative of the Artsakh people in the negotiation process today because there is no entity that received the vote of confidence of the people of Artsakh or, as some of our partners prefer to say, Armenians of Karabakh” the Prime Minister noted.
In an interview with Shant TV on June 13, Pashinyan again referred to the issue, stating that it was no different for the Armenian authorities as to the composition of the Azerbaijani delegation since it is the “delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.
“If the president of Azerbaijan is not authorized to represent all citizens of Azerbaijan and for that reason those groups of citizens should come to the negotiations, then very well, let them come, but the following issues will arise: maybe Baku delegation should come separately, maybe Gazakh delegation should come separately, Kirovabad, Lezgins, Talish and other national minorities? Maybe a delegation of Kurds should come on their own? I mean we have no problem, but it can be a composition that may raise questions, and before the actual negotiations we must clarify those issues so that the scope of the mandate is clear to each of us”, Pashinyan said.
In other words, Pashinyan did not say anything about recognizing the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh as a negotiating party. According to Pashinyan, in case of participation they will be considered as part of the Azerbaijani delegation.
Thus, neither Pashinyan’s nor Igityan’s words include any formulations on putting the “Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh” on a par with Artsakh, since both clearly point out that that community is already represented by the Azerbaijani president and presence of the representatives of that community at the negotiating table will be an end in itself.