Armenia's PM: Shelling of civilian settlements part of Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy

18/10/2020 17:05

Armenia's PM: Shelling of civilian settlements part of Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has given an interview to France 24. Below is the transcript of the interview.

France 24 - Hello and welcome to this edition of the France 24 interview. We are joined by the Prime Minister of Armenia, Mr Nikol Pashinyan.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you so much for agreeing to this France 24 interview in what surely are very difficult times for the region you are living in. I would like to bring up a map that you may not agree with, although it is widely circulated in the international arena. It shows your country Armenia on the left, Azerbaijan the neighboring country on the right. And what is looking like Azerbaijani territory, the disputing region of Nagorno-Karabakh which actually declared its independence back in the 90s which not a single member of the United Nations has so far recognized, not even your country, Armenia.

Recently we witnessed a very hard approach to this issue. You went to Nagorno-Karabakh and declared that the Republic of Artsakh which is another name for the Nagorno-Karabakh region is Armenia. Here again, Mr Prime Minister, not a single member of the United Nations has agreed with that statement.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Unfortunately I cannot see the map which you posted and I cannot make any comment. As regards the statement which you refer to, it is important to know the history of the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh because in your statement you said “contested territory.”

Unfortunately at some point in time, the international media started to present the Nagorno-Karabakh issue as a territorial dispute, and the reason for that is that the history and the origin of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue have been forgotten.

Back in 1988 in the Soviet Union where there was a process of “perestroika” and democratization, the people of Karabakh were inspired by Gorbachev's reforms. They decided to restore their rights - rights that had been violated in the period of formation of the Soviet Union when as a result of Stalin's arbitrary decision, Nagorno-Karabakh with over 80% Armenian population had been annexed to Soviet Azerbaijan.

And so, in 1988 the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh adopted a decision on unification with Armenia. This was an absolutely peaceful process. I wish to highlight that back then the movement was perceived as a process of democratization in the Soviet Union.

Many in Europe were saying that the Karabakh movements ushered in the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In response to this peaceful decision in Karabakh, the Soviet Union and Soviet Azerbaijan exerted violence carrying out killings of Armenians in the towns of Sumgayit and Baku. And that is how the conflict came about.

Coming to the period when the Soviet Union collapsed, Soviet Azerbaijan declared independence from the Soviet Union, the Autonomous Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh exercised its right under the Soviet legislation which provided that if a Soviet Republic gains independence, an autonomous unit within a Soviet Republic has the right to determine its status. So that, Nagorno-Karabakh decided to declare its independence.

As regards your statement that nobody has so far recognized the independence of Karabakh, I should say that it is just the reason behind the struggle waged by the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the people of Armenia. We want the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to be able to exercise their right to self-determination. As to why Artsakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh is Armenia. If you go to Karabakh today, you will find Armenian churches dating back to the 4th century, 5th century, 7th century, 10th century, or 13th century.

The very first Armenian school ever was created in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Over 80% of the population in Karabakh has always been Armenian, and “Armenia” means “land of Armenians.” Throughout history Nagorno-Karabakh has been land of the Armenians. And I want to emphasize that this is not a territorial dispute, this is about a problem of exercising human rights, people’s rights. Now the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are under an existential threat...

France 24 - Mr. Prime Minister, you mentioned the right of Nagorno Karabakh to independence. I would like to refer to the existing regulations within the framework of international law. In particular, the UN General Assembly has adopted a number of resolutions concerning Nagorno-Karabakh. You may know that it has a mention of “occupied territories,” which implies that those territories have been occupied.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Who occupied them? If you look closely at these resolutions…

France 24 - For instance, Resolution 62243 mentions the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan; obviously Azerbaijan is not occupying its own territories.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – Please let me continue. In fact, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh were facing an existential danger. Before the movement has started, there was a creeping existential threat in the sense that Azerbaijan targeted the Armenian identity. At that time, the existential threat had already become a direct threat as force was being used against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. Full-scale military operations were unleashed against Nagorno-Karabakh following the declaration of independence.

Cities, villages, settlements were bombed, people did not have the opportunity to live in their apartments for about 2 years. And since there was no international power to stop this process, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh formed self-defense forces, which managed to protect them against deadly shelling and rockets.

If you look closely at the UN Security Council resolutions, you will see that they clearly state that Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire agreement, eventually lost some territories as a result of strong counteraction carried out by Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-defense forces, the local Armenian forces.

Even today, Azerbaijan does not observe the ceasefire; this can lead to serious consequences for the region as a whole, including Azerbaijan.

France 24 - Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to refer to the rhetoric used with regard to Turkey. You say that Turkey has been directly and openly supporting Azerbaijan through diplomatic and military means. You insist that Turkey has genocidal aspirations against the Armenian people. The support coming from your international partners, including Russia, is not so great. Do you think that the world does not understand the problem properly or is indifferent to it?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, let me note that many countries, including the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, have already acknowledged that Turkey is involved in the hostilities, and that Turkey has provoked these hostilities.

Second, many representatives of the international community, countries, states - Russia, Iran, France, and other countries - admit that Turkey has transferred mercenaries from Syria to Azerbaijan to launch a large-scale offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh.

I clearly say that, yes, Turkey is back to the South Caucasus 100 years later to continue its genocidal policy against the Armenians. But it has a very specific pragmatic goal, because the Armenians in the South Caucasus are the last barrier on Turkey’s way to materializing its expansionist policy to the north, east and south-east.

And all this must be viewed in the context of the policy that Turkey is pursuing in the Mediterranean, in Syria, in Iraq, in its relations with Greece, Cyprus, and the world must face this fact. I have said that if this fact is not properly assessed, Europe will have to see in Turkey at Vienna.

France 24 - Mr. Prime Minister, let me ask you one more question. Asked about the killings of civilians, President Ilham Aliyev recently accused Armenia of deploying military equipment in close vicinity of civilian settlements, which he says has led to civilian casualties. What do you feel about it?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – A video filmed by international media was posted of late which showed how Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert was being shelled. While closely watching those footages I noticed that there was neither military infrastructure, nor any military personnel stationed in those sections of Stepanakert that had been shelled. This is being done as part of Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy. Aliyev and Azerbaijan, just as it was the case before, continue with the policy of genocide against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is manifested by indiscriminate killings, deportations and ethnic cleansing. International media outlets have provided numerous proofs that the following is happening in Stepanakert: residential buildings are just being demolished to make them unfit for habitation.

And this is why we say that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are facing an existential threat. There is only one solution to this issue: the international community must recognize Nagorno- Karabakh’s right to self-determination under the principle of “remedial secession.” Artsakh cannot be left under Azerbaijan’s control. It is simply out of the question; the international community must recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. By the way, I am glad that this process has already started in Europe at the level of local self-governments, city councils. We hope that it will spread ahead.

France 24 - Mr. Prime Minister, a last question since we have too little time left. You enjoy unprecedented reputation in your country. The international community overwhelmingly welcomed the assumption of your government. Most recently, in 2018, as a result of a peaceful process known as the Velvet Revolution, you came to power. Why not use your authority and popularity in order to engage in meaningful negotiations, which, as you know, implies a compromise - territorial concessions, which is a much better option than the deaths and destruction we can see today and that we have witnessed for a few decades now?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - I tried to do so. I offered a compromise, but during the negotiation process it becomes obvious that Azerbaijan, and now Turkey, does not want to give up its policy of genocide. Yet again, I insist that this issue has no other solution than the application of the principle of “remedial secession,” because strong with the support of Turkey and international terrorists, Azerbaijan has set itself the task of committing genocide against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.

France 24 – Could you please be more specific on the concessions you are ready to make? I would ask you to refer to the so-called buffer zone in that context.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Of course, I can be more specific. When I became Prime Minister, I first suggested the following formula. There has been a lot of talk about concessions, but we must first have a concept for the settlement of the issue. Anyone believing that the Armenian side should make unilateral concessions is just talking about the capitulation of the Armenian side. This is not a settlement. I suggested that we first trued to understand the settlement formula at the conceptual level.

And I said that any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be acceptable to the people of Armenia, to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, and to the people of Azerbaijan. I was the first leader involved in the negotiation process to state that any solution should be acceptable to the other side. However, Azerbaijan insisted on its position, saying that the settlement should be acceptable only to the people of Azerbaijan, which, in fact, means that Nagorno-Karabakh must be emptied out of Armenians by means of ethnic cleansing.

In case you have found a mistake in the text, please send a message to the editor by selecting the mistake and pressing Ctrl-Enter.


Today, 14:40 Head of Chief of Staff of Armenia’s Armed Forces not resigning Today, 13:47 Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences demands government’s resignation Today, 13:29 The only response ARF-D member Gegham Manukyan waits for is PM's resignation Today, 13:14 Stepanakert mayor congratulates Russian peacekeepers on Day of Peacekeepers (photos) Today, 12:27 Deputy minister of justice Rafik Grigoryan sacked Today, 11:37 Pentagon: Agreement on Karabakh maintained Today, 11:03 Number of coronavirus cases grow by 1,563 in a day, 44 new deaths recorded Today, 10:23 Ex-education minister Arayik Harutyunyan gets new post Today, 10:01 Ardshinbank is recognized as the Safest Bank in Armenia in 2020 24/11/2020 18:24 Putin discusses work of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh during phone conversations with Pashinyan and Aliyev 24/11/2020 17:26 Armenian deputy defense minister Makar Ghambaryan resigns 24/11/2020 17:13 Armenian troops leave Karvachar region (video) 24/11/2020 16:40 ICRC representatives visited Armenian captive servicemen and civilians in Azerbaijan 24/11/2020 15:14 Letter-appeal of parents of missing servicemen to be in Moscow in few hours: Russian embassy responds to parents' request 24/11/2020 15:08 Armenia's economy minister resigns 24/11/2020 14:18 Dissatisfied with the meeting with PM, parents of missing servicemen gather in front of Russian embassy 24/11/2020 13:39 Afrinpost: Two offices opened in Afrin … to register those wishing to settle in Karabakh 24/11/2020 13:06 Armenian army General, Artsakh war hero Astvatsatur Petrosyan dies 24/11/2020 11:34 Former member of Constitutional Court Kim Balayan declares hunger strike, demands criminal persecution against Pashinyan 24/11/2020 11:10 Number of coronavirus cases grows by 813 in a day, 30 new deaths recorded 24/11/2020 11:02 ICRC to increase presence in Nagorno Karabakh 23/11/2020 18:35 Education minister Arayik Harutyunyan sacked, new minister appointed 23/11/2020 18:04 Armenia’s ex-FM refutes information about leaving Armenia 23/11/2020 17:10 Process of collecting bodies continues: chairman of commission to parents of missing servicemen 23/11/2020 15:45 Covid-19: Oxford University vaccine is highly effective 23/11/2020 14:30 ECHR applies urgent measure in case of Armenian prisoners of war kept in Azerbaijan 23/11/2020 13:55 Armenia’s PM launches series of meetings with businessmen (photos) 23/11/2020 13:45 ARF-D member Gegham Manukyan joins his friend in hunger strike with demand of Pashinyan’s resignation 23/11/2020 13:05 Impression is our children are of no value for anyone – parent of missing serviceman 23/11/2020 11:41 Parents of missing soldiers demand meeting with defense minister 23/11/2020 11:29 Specialists from anti-mine center head to Karabakh for sapper works 23/11/2020 10:59 Number of coronavirus cases grows by 485 in a day, 26 new deaths recorded 23/11/2020 10:40 Over 1,400 refugees return to Artsakh 23/11/2020 10:34 Armenia still has a chance with condition of removal of incumbent authorities till the last “head of department” – expert 22/11/2020 11:29 Number of coronavirus cases grows by 1,385 in a day, 24 new deaths recorded 22/11/2020 11:22 Armenia’s PM meets Artsakh president, discusses further steps to restore life in Artsakh 21/11/2020 20:34 Ex-head-secretary of NA staff Ara Saghatelyan released 21/11/2020 19:58 Karabakh Defense Army publishes list of other 41 deceased servicemen 21/11/2020 17:11 Pashinyan was calling me, Osipyan, telling he wanted to see rivers of blood – Artur Vanetsyan makes revelations 21/11/2020 16:28 Artur Vanetysan – We have no aim to resume war, it’s Nikol Pashinyan who provoked it 21/11/2020 16:17 “Russia reaffirms support for fraternal Armenian people” - PM receives Russian government delegation 21/11/2020 15:04 Criminal case filed based on materials prepared in relation to the press conference of former MOD official Movses Hakobyan 21/11/2020 14:46 Armenian, Russian FMs have short meeting in Yerevan 21/11/2020 14:20 Sergey Shoygu departs to Baku 21/11/2020 14:14 Russia’s FM meets with Armenia’s President 21/11/2020 14:02 Russia’s delegation to discuss issue of humanitarian center on Karabakh and economic cooperation – Lavrov 21/11/2020 13:45 Russia hands over Armenia samples of coronavirus vaccine 21/11/2020 13:36 Armenia’s PM says had substantive conversation with Russia’s FM 21/11/2020 13:29 Russia’s DM urges Armenian counterpart ensure strict control of ceasefire in Karabakh 21/11/2020 13:19 Russian, Armenian emergency situation ministers discuss issues on preventing humanitarian crisis in Karabakh 21/11/2020 12:00 Our task is not to allow bloodshed in Karabakh – Russia’s DM (video) 21/11/2020 11:49 Armenia hopes to boost allied partnership and relations with Russia more – Pashinyan 21/11/2020 11:36 ECHR upholds Armenia’s application, applies interim measure against Azerbaijan 21/11/2020 11:22 Number of coronavirus cases grow by 1,193 in past day, 41 deaths recorded 21/11/2020 11:15 Armenia’s PM states about necessity of reforms in Armed Forces 21/11/2020 11:10 Russia’s FM arrives in Yerevan 21/11/2020 10:55 Armenia’s PM meets Russia’s Defense Minister in Yerevan 20/11/2020 21:10 Former head-secretary of NA staff Ara Saghatelyan arrested 20/11/2020 18:30 85 people in Yerevan and 8 in Gyumri apprehended for conducting peaceful action demanding PM’s resignation 20/11/2020 18:08 Citizens conduct protest rallies demanding Pashinyan's resignation (photos) 20/11/2020 17:49 U.S. Ambassador condemns political violence in Armenia 20/11/2020 17:36 Armenia’s third president’s spouse Rita Sargsyan passed away at 58 20/11/2020 17:25 “Data 4000”: Internet tariff plan specially for the regions of Armenia 20/11/2020 17:22 Russian interdepartmental delegation to arrive in Yerevan 20/11/2020 17:14 CC to recognize government-designed provision restricting freedom of expression of people and mass media during emergency situation anti-constitutional 20/11/2020 15:50 Henaket think tank’s head Tigran Abrahamyan apprehended (video) 20/11/2020 15:44 Former parliament official Ara Saghatelyan apprehended while calling all to take to streets and make Pashinyan resign (video) 20/11/2020 14:38 Andranik Piloyan appointed Armenia's Emergency Situations Minister 20/11/2020 14:35 Mesrop Arakelyan appointed Armenia's Labor and Social Affairs Minister 20/11/2020 14:31 Armenia has new Defense Minister 20/11/2020 14:25 Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan sacked - official 20/11/2020 13:43 Karabakh Defense Army publishes list of other 28 servicemen killed at war 20/11/2020 13:40 Artur Vanetsyan – Don’t allow the outgoing traitor use your name for his personal interest 20/11/2020 12:53 Artur Vanetsyan said to provide physical security guarantees to Pashinyan and his family 20/11/2020 12:31 Law enforcement system must deal with information provided by MOD ex-official and not with bringing him to responsibility: Artur Vanetsyan 20/11/2020 11:33 Macron: France ready to support preservation of cultural and religious heritage in Artsakh 20/11/2020 11:10 Number of coronavirus cases grows by 1,667 in a past day, 40 new death cases recorded 20/11/2020 10:58 November 22 declared Remembrance Day of heroes killed in Artsakh war 20/11/2020 10:46 4,000 residents arrived back in Stepanakert accompanied by Russian peacekeepers 19/11/2020 23:01 Armenia's PM notes fundamental importance of international recognition of the Artsakh Republic during phone conversation with France's Macron 19/11/2020 22:43 Armenia's MFA: Recent atrocities of Azerbaijani side based on anti-Armenian policy instigated and encouraged by Azeri leadership for decades 19/11/2020 22:32 Armenia’s parliament to convene special session on November 26 to discuss lifting marital law 19/11/2020 20:02 Ex-head of Ministry of Defense Control Service summoned to SIS, gives testimonies 19/11/2020 19:00 Armenian newly appointed FM discusses situation in Karabakh with Russian counterpart during phone conversation 19/11/2020 18:45 Armenia’s Prosecutor General sends footage of MOD ex-official Movses Hakobyan's press conference to SIS for procedural verification of presented circumstances 19/11/2020 18:34 Ex top military official says Armenia’s SU fighters have no ammunition 19/11/2020 18:19 Non-professional management of the armed forces first reason of defeat – Movses Hakobyan 19/11/2020 18:09 Armenia used Iskander during the war – MOD ex-official 19/11/2020 18:01 On third day of war Armenia’s PM orders to stop supplements and send volunteers to frontline – Movses Hakobyan 19/11/2020 17:43 Mobilization in Karabakh was carried out at 78% in Armenia at 52% - ex top MOD official 19/11/2020 14:26 Lie should not exceed 30%, in our case it exceeded 100%: former top military 19/11/2020 14:03 EU allocates additional €3 million in emergency aid for civilians affected by the hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh 19/11/2020 13:52 Demonstrators in Yerevan end their protest action, open the street closed by cars 19/11/2020 13:43 No document ever been signed on Karabakh that would have affected Armenia’s territorial integrity 19/11/2020 13:28 Protest action held in Yerevan with demand of Pashinyan’s resignation, demonstrators close central streets 19/11/2020 12:53 Only person not having signed the trilateral document may handle the situation: Bright Armenia deputy 19/11/2020 12:33 Russian peacekeepers fully demine Karabakh’s Lachin corridor (video) 19/11/2020 11:40 Over 2,600 residents return to Stepanakert 19/11/2020 11:28 Azerbaijan allowed to transport only civilian cargos through Meghri: My Step deputy 19/11/2020 11:15 Joint task group created to confront humanitarian crisis in Artsakh