Wednesday, 22 03 2023
Wednesday, 22 03 2023
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Armenia will take measures to launch international mechanisms for the prevention of genocides

A regular session of the RA government was held today, chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Before discussing the session’s agenda, the country’s prime minister made a speech in which he referred to Azerbaijan’s ongoing illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor and preparations for ethnic cleansing and genocide against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the need to launch additional preventive international mechanisms and presented the works within the peace process framework.

Below is the complete transcript of the RA Prime Minister’s speech.

“Dear participants of the government session,

Dear people,

Despite the decision of the International Court of Justice published on February 22 of this year, Azerbaijan continues to illegally close the only passable asphalted road of the Lachin Corridor connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. As a result, the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh continues to be tense.

At the same time, we see specific actions by Azerbaijan aimed at militarily aggravating the situation on the line of contact with Nagorno-Karabakh. The latest blatant manifestation of this was the killing of 3 Nagorno-Karabakh police officers by an Azerbaijani subversive group on March 5 of this year. Let me remind you the police used to go to the Old Shen and Mets Shen villages of Nagorno Karabakh by passenger car for official purposes.

Another incident took place in Nagorno-Karabakh in the area of responsibility of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation. It is important to note that the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation clearly stated in its message on March 6 that the initiator of the incident was the Azerbaijani side. The letter from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation also states that proceedings are underway with the participation of representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan to find out the details of the incident. In this regard, I think the fact that the murders of Nagorno-Karabakh police officers took place in the corridor of Lachin should be given a thorough evaluation.

As you remember, according to point 6 of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, the Lachin Corridor is not only the road closed by Azerbaijan since December 12, 2022 but also a 5-kilometer wide area, a security zone. Therefore, the killings carried out by Azerbaijan on March 5 constitute a triple violation of the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020. The ceasefire, the contact line of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also the 5-kilometer zone of the Lachin Corridor was violated.

Dear attendees,

Azerbaijan’s state and near-state propaganda have been creating a media backdrop for a large-scale attack on Nagorno-Karabakh for a long time, and tensions are visible on the ground. Our assessment remains the same: the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan sees preparations for ethnic cleansing and genocide against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. This protocol is mainly present in the decision of the International Court of Justice of February 22, where it was clearly stated that the closure of the Lachin Corridor could bring irreversible humanitarian consequences for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. In this sense, I consider it essential and urgent that Armenia takes measures to launch international mechanisms to prevent genocides. We are talking, in particular, about the tools provided in the UN framework. I gave relevant instructions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about this.

The work on sending an international fact-finding mission to the Lachin Corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh is ongoing. The fact-finding mission is also essential to address Azerbaijan’s baseless claims that the Republic of Armenia has an army in Nagorno-Karabakh and that military transports are carried out from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. These claims are groundless, and Azerbaijan is trying to use them as a new pretext for regional military escalation. Therefore, sending an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin Corridor is also necessary.

As I mentioned in my press conference held the previous day, a conversation on this topic also took place on October 6 in Prague during the meeting between the President of France, the President of the European Council, the President of Azerbaijan, and myself. The President of Azerbaijan claimed that the Republic of Armenia has an army in Nagorno-Karabakh; I argued that it does not, and he claimed it does. I offered to send an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh to clarify the issue, but the president of Azerbaijan refused.

As you know, there is a Defense Army in Nagorno-Karabakh, and as long as the threat of ethnic cleansing and genocide hangs over the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, the existence of that army is, yes, justified. But the Defense Army is not the only mechanism for preventing the genocide of the people of Nagorno Karabakh.

Such a mechanism is also the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

On November 18, 2020, the Federal Council of the Russian Federation decided to send a peacekeeping contingent of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to Nagorno-Karabakh. In this regard, in the application letter addressed to the Federal Council, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, mentioned several goals of sending a peacekeeping force to Nagorno Karabakh, I quote: “Maintenance of the ceasefire agreement on the part of the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides and the cessation of all military operations, mass casualties of the civilian population of Nagorno-Karabakh and civil to avoid significant damage to the facilities, I have decided to send an army contingent to Nagorno-Karabakh immediately,” Vladimir Putin said in his letter to the Federal Council.

The Federal Council included the exact wording and vocabulary in the decision adopted on November 18. Thus, we can record that the Russian Federation officially recorded the possibility of mass murder of the civilian population of Nagorno-Karabakh and assumed the role of guarantor of the security of the people and civil infrastructures of Nagorno-Karabakh.

I have talked about this several times, but now I want to repeat it. We hope that the Russian Federation will fully fulfill the function mentioned above. Still, suppose our friend and ally, the Russian Federation, cannot perform this role for any objective reason. In that case, I think it should turn to the UN Security Council to alert the civilian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, About the danger of mass killings, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and the need to launch additional international mechanisms in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor to prevent this.

Moreover, I do not have any presumptions about the activity of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Just the series of events that happened in the last more than two years, such as the occupation of Khtsaberd, Old Tagher, the incidents of Parukh, the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the murders of police officers and civilians, regular violations of the ceasefire regime, actions aimed at terrorizing the civilian population are disturbing. At the same time, I cannot fail to mention the unique role of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation, the merit in the fact that the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh due to the illegal closure of the Lachin Corridor from December 12 did not turn into a humanitarian disaster. I want to thank you for the efforts aimed at this goal.

Dear attendees,

In the events unfolding around Nagorno-Karabakh, it is also worrying that Azerbaijan is doing everything to abort the Baku-Stepanakert dialogue. Contrary to the agreements reached at the international level, after only two meetings, Azerbaijan announced that it would discuss the topic of reintegration with the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. Meanwhile, the international agreement is that the discussion should be about the rights and security of the people of Nagorno Karabakh.

Against this background, launching the Stepanakert-Baku dialogue’s international mechanism becomes more critical because now it is already apparent evident that such a mechanism, the agenda will fail and will be forgotten by Baku. We are also concerned that another international tool, defined by point 7 of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, has yet to be launched. To remind you, point 7 of the trilateral information says, “Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent regions under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This means that international mechanisms for the return of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh’s Hadrut region, Shushi, Martuni, and Martakert regions, Shahumyan region, Getashen, Lachin, and other regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh must be launched. I have instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start official negotiations with the UN with the High Commissioner for Refugees.

By the way, representatives of ethnically cleansed Armenians from Baku, Shirvan, Sumgait, Kirovabad, Khanlar, Shamkhor, Nakhichevan, and other regions of Azerbaijan are also appealing to the state authorities, protesting why we are not talking about their rights and returning to their homes accompanied by international peacekeeping forces. The problem is that point 7 of the tripartite statement of November 9 refers only to the refugees and internally displaced persons of Nagorno Karabakh and the regions immediately adjacent to it.

But this, of course, is not an obstacle for the representatives of the ethnically cleansed Armenians of Baku, Shirvan, Sumgait, Kirovabad, Khanlar, Shamkhor, Nakhichevan, and other regions of Azerbaijan to organize themselves and become respectable participants in their property, return, and lies.

Dear people,

I also want to inform you that we have received new proposals from Azerbaijan regarding the peace treaty. Thus, we have entered the fourth round of discussion of the draft contract. We will discuss and present our observations soon. We are committed and will not deviate from the peace agenda. At the same time, I must also draw the attention of the international community to the fact that, contrary to point 8 of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, Azerbaijan has not yet returned Armenian prisoners, hostages, and other detained persons, and continues to keep them under occupation. The sovereign territories of the Republic of Armenia were occupied due to the aggression of 1994, 2021, and 2022.

Thank you.”

Արթուր Աղաբեկյան
Արթուր Աղաբեկյան
Դավիթ Գրիգորյան
Դավիթ Գրիգորյան