Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was interviewed on the popular BBC program HARDTalk, whose host Stephen Sackur asked a wide array of questions ranging from Armenia’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis to the current situation on the Armenia and Azerbaijan border.
In discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process, Sackur challenged Pashinyan saying that the prime minister’s statement last year the “Artsakh is Armenia. Period,” was provocative and nationalistic.
“For thousands of years Artsakh has been populated by indigenous Armenian people,” Pashinyan told the BBC host, explaining the Armenia’s position was not nationalistic because the “Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh are under existential threat.”
“The reality is that at the time the conflict started, 80 to 90 percent of the population was Armenian, and Azerbaijan tried to cleanse the land of Armenians. And the conflict started from this moment,” added Pashinyan.
“Azerbaijan started a military attack against Armenia. It wasn’t a separate action. For a long time the Azerbaijani president has developed a bellicose rhetoric, saying that he is going to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict using military force. As a result of that bellicose rhetoric the Azerbaijani government is facing the challenge to explain to their own society why they couldn’t solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through force,” Pashinyan said, recapping the events of the last month.
He, once again, proposed the establishment of international mechanism to monitor ceasefire violations on Azerbaijan’s border with both Armenia and Artsakh, explaining that such measures will alleviate “confusion” for the international community who continue to blame both sides any time tensions escalate on the border.
“I can understand the situation of the international community that every time hears mutual accusations about who violated the ceasefire. And this continues again and again for a long time. That’s why we are proposing to establish an international mechanism for investigating ceasefire violations. And this is a valid proposal by Armenia,” said Pashinyan.
The prime minister also criticized President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, saying that his increasing and continued “bellicose” rhetoric and threats to resolve the conflict through military force undermine the settlement process.
“Peace can’t be achieved through unilateral actions of Armenia,” Pashinyan told Sackur. “What we are proposing to Azerbaijan is to renounce any possibility of use of force. We should agree on a very simple formula: there is no military solution to the Nagrono Karabakh conflict.”
He also said that Aliyev was unwilling to accept a “new formula for peace,” which he laid out for the conflict resolution.
“The formula is the following: any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be acceptable for the people of Armenia, for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and for the people of Azerbaijan. I am the first Armenian leader to have ever said that any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be acceptable for the Azerbaijani people, too. But, unfortunately, the Azerbaijani president didn’t reciprocate my proposal,” he said.