Nikol Pashinyan, Bako Sahakyan Co-Chair Meeting of Security Councils of Armenia and Artsakh
The following is an unedited Armenian government press release.
Co-chaired by Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan, the Security Councils of Armenia and Artsakh held a joint session in Stepanakert today. The agenda featured the joint assessment of the current situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and the outline of coordinated actions.
RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan made speeches before discussing the agenda items.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan -
Honorable President of the Artsakh Republic,
Let me greet the joint session of the Security Councils of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh, which is an unprecedented event in the history of our two republics. This event is emblematic, and it has a very specific meaning at the same time. I mean that relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh enter a qualitatively new stage. What other manifestations the current stage may have in the near future is perhaps one of the most important topics of our discussion.
This is my first visit to the Republic of Artsakh after the parliamentary elections of December 9, 2018. I want to emphasize the fact that the My Step Alliance got a strong mandate from the Armenian people to raise the level of Artsakh Republic’s involvement in the peace process and take specific steps to that end. These goals were of paramount importance in My Step Alliance’s electoral program.
The Government of the Republic of Armenia and, as the Prime Minister who has received a strong vote of confidence, I will take consistent steps in this direction, and this issue will continue to be one of the most important points of our discussions with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
I think it necessary to underscore that Artsakh’s involvement in the negotiation process is not a whim or even a precondition for us, but a simple fact Artsakh’s involvement in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is of pivotal importance.
This position reflects our respect not only for the people of Artsakh and its rights, but also all our partners involved in the negotiation process, because we are truly eager to achieve an exclusively peaceful settlement of the issue and believe in the successful completion of the ongoing negotiations.
As a matter of fact, the current framework of talks involves all concerned parties, except one. Azerbaijan is represented by President Aliev in these talks. By the way, he insists that he represents the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh, because as citizens of Azerbaijan, the representatives of that community participated in the presidential elections in Azerbaijan and therefore gave the President of Azerbaijan the authority to represent them. Therefore, the presence of Azerbaijan’s President at the table of negotiations ensures the presence of those Azerbaijanis who used to live in Karabakh before the conflict.
The Republic of Armenia is represented by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, who in this case acts as the representative of the people of the Republic of Armenia. Consequently, the citizens of Armenia are also represented in the negotiation process.
The international community is represented in the negotiation process on behalf of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. All this, of course, is good and extremely important, and we highly appreciate the efforts made by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs toward the settlement of the conflict.
But the main question is who should represent the people of Artsakh, or otherwise, the Armenians of Karabakh in the negotiation process. The problem is that there is no legitimate representative in the negotiation process today, as there is no representative of the people of Artsakh, or as some of our partners keep stating, one who has the mandate of the Armenians of Karabakh.
I have repeatedly stated that the Prime Minister of Armenia cannot have such a power because the people of Artsakh are not voting in Armenia’s elections, and therefore the Armenian Prime Minister is not supposed to represent the people of Artsakh. This is not a matter of whims or a precondition but a matter of legitimacy, and the latter is a key factor in modern relations only in terms of home policy, but also in terms of interstate and international relations.
By the way, to my mind, all those comments that the Republic of Armenia and the Prime Minister are thereby trying to shake off their share of responsibility and put the burden on the people of Artsakh are nonsense. To avoid any speculation, I consider it necessary to underscore that the Republic of Armenia has always been and will be the number one guarantor of Artsakh’s security and will henceforth be actively involved in the peace process.
The next most important question to be answered is whether the Armenian government accepts the three principles and the six points, proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group as a basis for the negotiation process. This is actually an important issue, but in order to answer this question we need some clarifications. What do these principles mean in practice, and who is entitled to interpret them? This is important for us as we cannot accept the interpretations given by Azerbaijan.
In turn, we can come up with our own interpretation of these principles, but it is just senseless because our objective is not to get engaged in a debate, but instead to push ahead with the talks. And consequently, the negotiations should be supported by unequivocal and positive statements.
However, the principles and elements proposed by the co-chairs have given rise to controversial interpretations over the last 10 years, and therefore the most important objective of the forthcoming negotiation process should be the clarification of the so-called 3 main principles and 6 elements, and we are open to dialogue on these matters.
The next important issue is to prepare peoples for peace. I think important to emphasize that any such preparation implies joint efforts. I mean, for example, the preparation for peace of the Azerbaijani community should take place not only with the participation of Azerbaijan but also with the authorities of Armenia.