By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Since assuming power in 2018, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has proven to be more hardliner and pro-occupation than his predecessors and has crushed all hopes for potential breakthrough in talks over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
He had earlier called for annexation of Armenian-occupied Karabakh and his defence minister had threatened to capture more Azerbaijani territories in case the war resumes between the two countries.
Pashinyan recently questioned Madrid principles - in particular the provision calling for the return of the Armenian-occupied territories to be returned to Azerbaijan. He equated the Madrid principles with the legacy of former Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan.
During a press conference in Armenia’s Kapan region on January 25, Pashinyan noted that recently a publication appeared in the press, which cited excerpts from a document that was on the negotiating table on the Karabakh settlement, and which Serzh Sargsyan left as an “inheritance”.
He dwelled on the legacy, which was published, and about which there were no rebuttals from the previous Armenian government. In particular, the return of seven regions to Azerbaijan - Aghdam, Fizuli, Jabrail, Zangilan, Gubadli, Kalbajar and Lachin with the condition of providing direct ground communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. In addition, settlers must leave five regions, the Azerbaijani authorities would gain control of these areas after peacekeeping forces were deployed with the withdrawal of all armed forces. It was also planned that until the conflict was fully resolved, Nagorno-Karabakh should be given special status.
Pashinyan called on all "candidates for presidency" in occupied Karabakh to declare whether this text suits them or not.
The former "prime minister", now a "presidential candidate" for the separatist entity in Karabakh Arayik Harutyunyan was the first to respond to Pashinyan’s appeal. In particular, he said that such an option to resolve the conflict is "unacceptable."
He even added that immediately after the so-called "elections", work will begin on the development of all adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijani regions and their settlement.
Ashot Gulyan, the "speaker of the parliament" of the regime also spoke out in defense of the thesis “we will not return an inch of land”. He considers the "independence" of Nagorno-Karabakh as the minimum goal, while the main task is to "unite" with Armenia. Gulyan added that one cannot even discuss the issue of returning territories to Azerbaijan.
The only opposition candidate in the "elections" Hayk Khanumyan, also said that the return of lands to Azerbaijan cannot be negotiated.
Another "candidate", Ruslan Israelyan, joined the discussions, who noted that all occupied Azerbaijani territories "belong to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh." He believes the negotiations should not be based on mutual concessions, and Azerbaijan must "recognized" the "independence" of Nagorno-Karabakh with adjacent territories.
It should be noted that the Madrid principle is the current negotiating framework under which discussions, brokered by the Minsk Group of the OSCE, have been going on for more than a decade. The talks aim to bring to an end the conflict that has now lasted more than three decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but which was occupied by Armenian forces since the two sides signed a ceasefire in 1994.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz