Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has delivered a fiery speech in which he accused Aliyev of planning the genocide of the ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In a cabinet meeting on Thursday, the PM stated that Azerbaijan was refusing international organisations entry to Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as advocating against the extension of the term of the Russian peacekeeping force in the region.
‘These and a number of similar actions and statements make it obvious that Aliyev is not only threatening, but already preparing for the genocide of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh’, Pashinyan said.
‘The President of Azerbaijan is trying to create grounds, invented grounds, for closing the Lachin Corridor, surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians, and subjecting them to genocide and expatriation, under the pretext of Armenia not fulfilling its obligations’.
Pashinyan’s comments came in response to a speech by Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev on Azerbaijan’s ‘Victory Day’ on 8 November. The public holiday marks the day when Azerbaijani troops took control of the city of Shusha (Shushi) in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.
In his speech, Aliyev stated that Russian peacekeepers were only temporarily stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh and that if Armenians ‘rely on anyone, they will face another tragedy’.
On 2 November, Pashinyan claimed that the possibility of extending the peacekeeping mission had been discussed during a meeting with Aliyev and Putin in Sochi on 1 November, but no agreement was reached.
He added that the peacekeepers should remain for as long as the ‘rights and security’ of the region’s Armenians was not guaranteed.
Aliyev also said that Armenia had committed to providing a corridor that would pass through the Syunik region of Armenia and connect Azerbaijan to its exclave of Nakhchivan.
‘The Zangazur corridor is the responsibility of Armenia. It has taken this commitment upon itself’, Aliyev stated in the Victory Day speech. ‘Two years have passed, but there is no feasibility study, no action, no railway, and no road. How much longer are we supposed to wait?’
[Read more on OC Media: Aliyev admits Azerbaijan started the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War]
Pashinyan also denied Aliyev’s claims that Armenia had committed to providing Azerbaijan with a corridor to its exclave.
According to Pashinyan, the trilateral agreement that brought an end to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War does not mention the ‘corridor’ that Azerbaijan is demanding.
Pashinyan said that the agreement defines the Lachin corridor, connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, as not only a road, but a five-kilometre-wide area. Meanwhile in point 9, which refers to unblocking transport connections in the region, ‘there is no mention of any such area and it’s only about communication, transport communication’, Pashinyan said.
Pashinyan concluded his speech by declaring that Armenia was ‘truly and sincerely committed to the peace agenda’ and would ‘make every effort […] to complete the delimitation of Armenia–Azerbaijan borders as soon as possible, to unblock all regional transportation and economic connections, [and] to sign a peace treaty’ with Azerbaijan.
‘But if anyone thinks that the peace agenda means the “peaceful annihilation” of the Republic of Armenia or the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, they are sorely mistaken. The peace agenda is the peaceful development and coexistence of the Republic of Armenia and the region, and we will achieve our goal.’
Yerevan has previously confirmed that Armenia and Azerbaijan hoped to sign a peace treaty by the end of the year. However, after a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in Washington last week, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry stated that ‘there are a range of issues [regarding the peace treaty] that still need to be addressed’.