Borderline stress has a context. RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's speech at the National Assembly
RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made a speech in the National Assembly regarding the situation created due to the military aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan.
"You already know from the news that in the middle of the night, the armed forces of Azerbaijan took offensive actions in the direction of the Republic of Armenia in 4 directions; later 2-3 more rules were added. And Azerbaijan is trying to present that these actions were in response to some provocations by the Armenian side. Still, we must unequivocally record that this information is false, a lie, and does not correspond to reality. And in my speech today, I will try not only to record several facts but also to present the context of the question of why all this is happening.
We have 49 victims confirmed by the Ministry of Defense, but I must also record that this number is not final. I want to emphasize that the official news should be checked and rechecked before being published. This is why we, taking into account the painful experience we had in the past, do not publish any information about the identity of the dead soldier or officer until we are sure.
I must record that our soldiers, officers, and army fought selflessly and heroically and also pay tribute to our fallen soldiers and officers; I must emphasize that our statehood, independence, and sovereignty are based on that type of human being. And as long as there are such people who are ready to put their lives in danger, even sacrifice for the sake of the motherland at a decisive moment, it means that the Republic of Armenia has and will have sovereignty, the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian statehood will be, will be lasting. The people of the Republic of Armenia will be able to be proud of their children.
Currently, the intensity of combat operations has decreased, but Azerbaijan's attacks in 1-2 directions continue. The Ministry of Defense, General Staff, is assessing the situation and losses, and the adjusted information will be officially released.
Basically, from the moment the attack became known, members of the Security Council were invited to me, and there was a meeting of the Security Council, a forum, and a discussion, which continued until dawn. The President of the Republic and the President of the National Assembly participated. Based on the results of that discussion, we decided to apply to the Collective Security Treaty Organization. On the occasion of that application, a session of the CSTO Permanent Council is now taking place. We also appealed to the Russian Federation based on the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, and we decided to appeal to the UN Security Council to discuss the situation urgently.
During the night, I had telephone conversations with the President of the Russian Federation, the President of France, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The Minister of Defense had a conversation with his Russian counterpart, and we are now working in these directions to stabilize the situation as quickly as possible.
Today, I think it is necessary to have a non-emotional and cold conversation; in this context, I consider it essential. I am not here to publish facts because they will be available to the public through the media, or some are already open to the public. It is essential to clarify the context of what is happening - why all this is happening.
First of all, let's record that all the claims that the Armed Forces of Armenia resorted to some provocations and that Azerbaijan's actions were in response to the efforts of the Armenian Armed Forces are entirely untrue. In recent days, I think you have observed that the Azerbaijani side was constantly spreading information in the genre of information warfare, so to speak, about the attacks allegedly carried out by the Armed Forces of Armenia, The Ministry of Defense, of course, denied all this, because it had nothing to do with reality. And so what has happened and what is happening?
First of all, the first is, of course, related to the negotiation process of the Karabakh issue. You all remember that in March 2022, Azerbaijan presented five proposals regarding the peace treaty and offered to sign a peace treaty based on that. We responded that there is nothing unacceptable to us in those proposals, but we believe those points should be completed. On that completed basis, we are ready to negotiate and sign a peace treaty if we agree on the relevant issues. Of course, during this period, there seemed to be an understanding of the topic at the beginning. Still, over time, but recently, particularly during the last meeting in Brussels, it was revealed and clarified that Azerbaijan refuses to conduct peace negotiations based on our presented principles.
You remember several points in those principles; one of them was the observance of the regulations of the tripartite statements of November 9, 2020, January 11, and November 26, 2021, about those principles and ideas. The following vital point concerned the security, rights, and status of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The position of Azerbaijan, expressed or expressed during the negotiation process, is as follows. They said that they do not want to discuss the Karabakh issue with Armenia because their position is that the Karabakh issue is resolved, or at least it is an internal issue of Azerbaijan, an internal problem. They do not want to discuss this issue with the Republic of Armenia.
But the story does not end there because we have said before, and we say that, as I emphasized, one of the principles proposed by Azerbaijan, which refers to the mutual recognition of territorial integrity, is acceptable to us. And everything does not end here because the need for additional clarifications arises. And for example, what do we mean by territorial integrity? For instance, does Azerbaijan mean the territorial integrity of Armenia and the territories that Azerbaijan occupied either due to May 12, 2021, or during the first Karabakh war? Does Azerbaijan also mean these territories of the Republic of Armenia? This question, at least according to our impressions and discussions, definitely does not receive a response from Azerbaijan.
The next problem is the following. Naturally, Azerbaijan expects the Republic of Armenia to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan, which logically follows from the emphasis I mentioned a little while ago, that is, from the formulation of their position.
The next question that arises is to assume that after the solution of these two problems, Armenia and Azerbaijan, if theoretically there is such an understanding and record, does this mean that Armenia and Azerbaijan or, in particular, Azerbaijan do not have any territorial claim to Armenia and will not have. In the context of the conversation and the recording of political positions, it sounds like Azerbaijan has no territorial claims against the Republic of Armenia. But when there is a conversation, for example, about the process of demarcation and delimitation, it becomes evident that Azerbaijan is going to raise specific issues in the context of the methods of separation and delimitation, in its wording and description "in an illegal way," please pay attention, in its language it is allegedly "illegal" form" regarding some territories handed over to the Republic of Armenia. They record the names of those territories in their public speeches and talk about them. Although by and large, we should also note that when interviews or announcements with such content are made, they sometimes start from Nrnadzor, continue with Zangezur or Syunik region, and end with Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. I want to emphasize that if these were just interviews and statements, we could not even mention them. Still, all the facts, including diplomatic and negotiation facts, prove that this is a consistent policy on the part of Azerbaijan.
As for the Nagorno Karabakh problem, I already said that their position is becoming more apparent that there is no Nagorno Karabakh problem, and the Nagorno Karabakh problem is solved. Therefore there is no need to discuss it with the Republic of Armenia. And they can discuss this issue with international organizations; it is also not excluded, according to their wording, with the representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians within the framework of the constitution of Azerbaijan.
Again, I don't want to say that these actions aim to solve this or that issue I mentioned. Still, I want to say that these events, tension, in general, has a context, and the context consists of certain content, and I need to consider it necessary to present that content to you and our people.
Next is the topic of opening communications, and you know that Azerbaijan, paraphrasing the statement of November 9, 2020, is talking about having corridors or a corridor through the territory of Armenia. The context of the question is clear, and I don't think it is necessary to clarify it.
Our position was and continues to be as follows. We will not provide anyone a corridor through the territory of the Republic of Armenia. Still, we accept and are even interested in the opening and unblocking roads through the part of the Republic of Armenia, with the logic that all the region's countries, including Armenia, including Azerbaijan, can use these roads. If you remember, in the tripartite statement of November 9, point 9 is mentioned. The first sentence is also about unblocking, that is, freeing, opening, and reopening economic and transport communications, routes, and connections in the region. You also know that the topic is clarified by the tripartite statement of November 26, 2021, and it is recorded what actions should be taken to implement point 9 of the trilateral information of November 9. We have said and continue to say that the logic discussed and recorded in the tripartite view of January 11, 2021, and the trilateral working group is acceptable to us. You also know that the Russian co-chairman of the tripartite working group, Alexey Overchuk, made a public statement in Armenia that the working group agrees that the newly opened roads should operate under the sovereignty of the countries through which they pass.
I want to mention the following details so that the context of what is happening is more understandable to us. After the 44-day war of 2020, Azerbaijan has stated several times that if it sees that the Armed Forces and the Army of Armenia are gathering a particular potential, which, according to its wording, may threaten Azerbaijan, they will carry out pre-offensive actions. Despite what we have declared, which is also recorded in our official documents, we are undertaking reforms of the Armed Forces not to capture or conquer territories but to protect and preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia. However, at the stages when we, so to speak, focus on the theme of the Armed Forces and army reforms, at those times, such provocations are also carried out to hinder the process with the already announced plan, and this is one of the critical nuances and features.
The following important nuance, which I would like to talk about, is that, however, after the 44-day war of 2020, no matter how many different statements were made about it, even inside Armenia, it is evident that as a result of that war, yes, we have suffered heavy losses. Still, the Republic of Armenia was not broken due to that war if you allow us to make such a formulation from this podium. Moreover, in the conditions of the atmosphere and socio-psychological environment known at that time, the tripartite statement of November 9 was presented in a certain, so to speak, very negative light in the Armenian environment and Armenia, and it was not that we were happy or we are satisfied with that statement. I did not refer to that topic for a long time, but recently I considered it essential to emphasize that there is a critical 3+1 institutional protocol in that statement.
The first is the registration of the Nagorno-Karabakh entity, in the conditions when Azerbaijan says that Nagorno-Karabakh does not exist. But we have an active document under which Azerbaijan's signature is also placed, where it is recorded that there is Nagorno Karabakh, that Nagorno Karabakh entity is enclosed by a particular line, which is called the contact line in the document, there are Russian peacekeepers stationed, the meaning and logic of their presence is that is to ensure the safety of the line of contact, therefore of the territory, and therefore of the people living in the region, and there is the Lachin Corridor, which ensures the traffic, that is, the uncontrolled traffic of people, goods, communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
I want to tell you about such a delicacy. You are aware that recently the Secretary of the Security Council and members of the National Assembly visited Nagorno-Karabakh, which Azerbaijan responded to once again. We have recorded it before, and we must record it now that the tripartite declaration clearly states that the existence of the Lachin Corridor is to ensure the connection between Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia, the movement of people and goods. And Azerbaijan's similar positions are not logical at all because, as far as we are concerned, in that statement, there is no restriction on who can go to Nagorno Karabakh and who cannot go to Nagorno Karabakh.
A number of our international partners have spoken about this before. This is why I want to say that in recent actions, it is noticeable that Azerbaijan is trying, so to speak, both to remove from circulation and to give archival significance to the tripartite statement of November 9. This drive and purpose are also evident in the context of these provocations.
In my opinion, the next is no less critical. In my estimation, a circumstance that continues what I said in this part is that, nevertheless, it is evident that despite the global difficulties, Armenia has specific economic successes. In this context, of course, not directly, but I consider it very important that the Economic Freedom Index was published a few days ago. The Republic of Armenia ranks 11th among 165 countries worldwide. And this provocation has a goal and has the power to break the economic dynamics of Armenia because the economic dynamics are not just statistical numbers; they are also specific opportunities for development and improving the situation of affairs.
There's a question that I guess will come up, and I want to address that question. The question is: Is this the result of the peace plan, and is what is happening not a failure of the peace plan? We have repeatedly said that by adopting the peace plan, we also note and understand that it does not depend on just one entity. And, on the contrary, with these actions, Azerbaijan also wants and torpedoes the peace plan because peace is the environment in which the Republic of Armenia can develop at a high pace. Peace is the environment that can ensure the security of the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.
In a speech I recently gave in Vladivostok, referring to the topic of peace in general, I made a record, and there was no exaggeration in that record because we have seen that the representatives of Azerbaijan also say that they want peace. We also say that we want peace. Now a question may arise: who is not being very sincere here, and who is not expressing his true desires and motivations with these statements? I have to reiterate - I also understand that it may seem strange to say that everyone wants peace. The problem is that by peace, each subject or group understands a specific set of conditions; by peace, they mean their understanding of peace and its conditions. And peace does not happen when those conditions and experiences do not coincide, or it is impossible to bring them close to a state and status of near or near coincidence.
This is the current situation. What should we do next? We must go this way: protect the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of the Republic of Armenia. We must strive for peace by all means, bringing understanding closer together. We must reform our army and our Armed Forces as quickly and effectively as possible by all means to ensure the security of the Republic of Armenia. And of course, improving the mechanisms, relationships, and obligations in our alliances and our security relations are extremely important in this context because it is essential, as I said before, to be clear about who has what obligations to us and what responsibilities we have to others.
That's it, dear colleagues.
I say again, for me, one of the most urgent and relevant parts of speaking from this podium was not only to present the recorded facts but also to present the context of those facts. I said everything on this topic, also taking into account that, for some understandable reasons, there is an information vacuum about the ongoing processes, processes, content of negotiations, and their nuances.
It is essential that, especially at this stage, the people of the Republic of Armenia, the National Assembly, are aware of the subtleties being implemented. Of course, I have to note one detail: it is not the first time our National Assembly colleagues have heard what I said. We have had many meetings with the representatives of the "Civil Contract" faction; we sometimes had heated discussions. We have several times expressed our willingness to discuss and answer all the raised questions with the representatives of the parliamentary opposition, including in a closed-door format. I mean, this is perhaps the first time that several nuances have been officially voiced from the podium of the National Assembly. However, they have no secrets because a careful observer and analyst could see and notice all these nuances combined. Officially for the first time, I voiced it so that the situation, its nuances, and depth become more apparent."
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