In his first press conference in over a year, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan answered questions about the numerous issues facing Armenia since its defeat in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. During the press conference, he also said that during official negotiations Azerbaijan has not ever mentioned an Azerbaijani ‘corridor’ through Armenia’s southern Syunik province.
‘It’s Armenia who will decide by which roads to ensure the connection between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan; there is no corridor issue,’ Pashinyan said during the 22 November press conference, referring to point 9 of last year’s tripartite peace agreement, that brought an end to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War.
According to the text of the agreement, Armenia should provide ‘unobstructed traffic’ in a connection that links western Azerbaijan with its exclave of Nakhchivan. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has previously made public statements in which he appeared to interpret the connection as a corridor that Azerbaijan would exercise sovereignty over.
‘If it meant sovereign corridor, ‘sovereign corridor’ would be written,’ Pashinyan said. ‘
The Armenian Prime Minister also said that Armenia would never agree on giving Azerbaijan a ‘corridor’, though he also claimed Azerbaijan has never officially asked it of them.
‘We have never heard the word corridor from Azerbaijan at the working level’, he said. ‘Why should something that does not exist be acceptable for us, why should we discuss it at all.’
The online press conference lasted about two hours, with almost all questions asked concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the ongoing deadly border tensions with Azerbaijan.
According to Pashinyan, while the information is ‘unverified’, the number of soldiers taken captive by Azerbaijan during major clashes on 16 November, has risen to 33.
Hours before the press conference, the Kremlin announced Pashinyan, Aliyev, and Russian President Vladimir Putin will have a summit in Sochi on 26 November.
The three leaders will discuss the implementation of the tripartite peace agreement as well as a further agreement made on 11 January 2021. The Kremlin has said that the summit will aim to ‘outline further steps to strengthen stability and establish peaceful life in the region’ and that ‘special attention will be paid to the restoration and development of trade, economic and transport ties.’
Pashinyan also said that he expects to sign a document in the near future with Azerbaijan establishing a joint commission to demarcate and delimit the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
Despite any demarcation and delimitation, however, Pashinyan has said that Armenia will keep pushing for the self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh, nor will it avoid normalisation of relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey.
‘Armenia,’ he said, ‘has no intention of starting a war or capturing territories.’