Pashinyan Says Minsk Group Peace Principles Need Clarification

By Asbarez | Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Artsakh President Bako Sahakian chair a joint meeting of Armenia's and Artsakh's national security councils in Stepanakert

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Artsakh President Bako Sahakian chair a joint meeting of Armenia’s and Artsakh’s national security councils in Stepanakert

Armenia, Artsakh Joint Security Council Meeting Emphasizes Karabakh Peace

STEPANAKERT—Armenia’s and Artsakh’s national security councils held an unprecedented joint meeting on Tuesday with the aim of assessing the current stage of the Karabakh conflict resolution process and to coordinate efforts between the two Armenian republics. During the meeting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said there was a need to “clarify” the basic principles based on which the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen were leading the Karabakh peace negotiations.

The meeting, that took place in Stepanakert, was chaired by Pashinyan and Artsakh President Bako Sahakian, both of whom affirmed their commitment to an exclusively peaceful resolution to the conflict, based on the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen.

The security summit is taking place ahead of a proposed meeting between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Both leaders last month agreed to the proposed meeting by the Minsk Group co-chairs.

“Armenia remains committed to the negotiation process and as the guarantor of the security of Artsakh will pursue exerting efforts in this direction. At the same time, the decisive voice of Artsakh and its involvement remains pertinent for ensuring a full-fledged and effective peace process,” said Pashinyan in his opening remarks, adding that the fact that the security council meeting is taking place in Artsakh signaled a new “qualitative” phase of relations between the two republics.

“Artsakh is ready to continue its constructive contribution to the process of establishing lasting and durable peace in the region,” said Sahakian in his opening remarks, adding that ensuring the security and status of Artsakh within the framework of the Karabakh issue have been and will remain absolute priorities for all sides. He also underscored that the unconditional implementation of the 1994-1995 cease-fire agreement constituted the basis for a conducive atmosphere for.

Pashinyan reiterated his long-held stance that Artsakh must take part in the negotiations explaining that he and his government have made this issue a key point in discussions with Aliyev as well as the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.

The security councils’ meeting came a few days after the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmen issued a statement urging sides to return to the principles based on which the negotiation process has progressed and warned the sides to not make announcements that could derail the current stage of talks.

“With reference to some contradictory recent public statements on the substance of the Minsk Group process, the Co-Chairs reiterate that a fair and lasting settlement must be based on the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, including in particular the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples,” said the co-chair’s announcement.

“It also should embrace additional elements as proposed by the Presidents of the Co-Chair countries in 2009-2012, including: return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control; an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance; a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh; future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will; the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence; and international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation,” the co-chairs added.

In his remarks Pashinyan said one of the key elements that must be discussed is whether the government of Armenia accepts the principles and steps proposed by the co-chairmen, saying that the basis outlined by the Minsk Group co-chairmen have opened the door to conflicting interpretations, thus, he said, the need to clarify these positions must be what guides the next phase of the negotiations, which he said Armenia was ready to do.

“This is really an important question, but in answering this question we need important clarifications. What can these principles mean in practice and who has the right to interpret them? This is important, because the way Azerbaijan interprets these principles is unacceptable for us. We, of course, can come up with our own interpretation of these principles, but it’s pointless because our goal is not to engage in a war of words, but to have an efficient negotiation process. And consequently, the basis for the negotiation process should not leave room for different interpretations,” said Pashinyan.

Another element of the co-chairs recent talking points has been the so-called preparation of the societies—the people—for peace. Pashinyan argued that this aspect must be done in concert with the others at the negotiation table, arguing, for example, that the government of Armenia had a role to also “prepare” the people of Azerbaijan for peace saying that “any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue should be acceptable for the people of Armenia, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the people of Azerbaijan.”

Pashinyan emphasized that he had taken such a step by making the aforementioned announcement at Armenia’s parliament in the fall. He lamented, however, that similar sentiments had not been expressed by Azerbaijan. Despite this, he said, ”I am ready to continue the dialogue not only with the president of Azerbaijan, but also with the people of Azerbaijan, because I am convinced that the people of Azerbaijan are as peace-loving as the people of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”