Before leaving St. Petersburg, Russia where he was participating at an international economic summit, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan fielded questions from reporters, among them an Azerbaijani journalist, who was rebuked by the Armenian leader for using the term “occupied territories” in reference to Artsakh.
“How can a territory be deemed ‘occupied’ by people, who were born there, whose grandfathers and ancestors were born and lived there? How can that territory be occupied? A territory, where those people have lived for many generations, how can it be occupied?” pondered Panshinyan in his response to the Azerbaijani reporter.
He went on to emphasize that the governments of Armenia and Artsakh are ready and have always advocated for the installing of investigative mechanisms on the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, as was proposed by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries in St. Petersburg and Vienna in the aftermath of the April 2016 War.
“In order to avoid disputes about who, where and when shots were fired, it is necessary to discuss the agreements reached back in 2016 in Vienna. I am speaking about the mechanisms investigating incidents in the line of conflict,” Pashinyan added.
The prime minister also responded to a question regarding Arsenal midfielder and captain of Armenia’s National Soccer Team Henrikh Mkhitaryan skipping a Europa League final match in Baku late last month.
Pashinyan pointed to video footage that went viral on the internet during the match, showing Azerbaijani police officers and security forces harassing fans wearing Mkhitaryan jerseys.
“I think it speaks volumes when fans wearing Mkhitaryan shirts are being approached by Azerbaijani police. I can only imagine…” said Pashinyan who also cited recent example of Russian citizens of Armenian descent being expelled from Azerbaijan simply for being Armenian, calling such incidents “a bad sign.”
‘I think such incidents should stop because they cause more tensions. We have no such issues in Armenia. In fact, recently, a reporter from the Azerbaijani Turan news agency visited Armenia and I know that he had no problems. No security issue was even raised,” explained Pashinyan.