By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan recently gave an interview to BBC Hard Talk where he found himself in a difficult position answering questions about the domestic and foreign policies within his government.
During an interview at BBC on October 25, Mnatsakanyan tried to avoid answering Stephen Sackur’s questions about occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
In particular, he couldn’t respond to BBC host’s question about Armenia’s violation of international law, Pashinyan’s controversial statement describing Karabakh as part of Armenia, Armenia’s military abuses in Karabakh and lack of Yerevan’s commitment to peace.
Referring to Armenian Prime Minister’s August speech in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, Sackur told Zohrab Mnatsakanyan:
“I have to be honest with you, when a Prime-Minister [Pashinyan] declares ‘Karabakh is Armenia and period,’ When he knows that it flies in the face of international law, the position of the UN and all of the independent international agencies, I am struggling to see how that is a move, a gesture towards peace, particularly when he also formed out by leading the crowd during that particular speech with chants of unification, national slogans that have been heard in the eighties and nineties during the war with Azerbaijan and you are telling me your Prime-Minister is devoted to make peace.”
In response, the foreign minister said that Armenia is following “Pan-Armenian agenda” and the “agenda of consolidation”.
The BBC host also reminded that several months ago, while commenting on Pashinyan’s call for unification, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said that “It's the same as if the Prime Minister of Albania said from Tirana that Kosovo is Albania”.
“So even the Russians are now saying that your position is unacceptable,” Sackur said, stressing that Russia is Armenia’s “closest military ally” and has a military base in Armenia.
Sackur also asked the Armenian Foreign Minister whether his country was ready to reconcile with its past and admit to committing grave abuses in the Nagorno-Karabak war.
“Are you prepared to be imaginative and in the spirit of reconciliation, to acknowledge that over the last 20 years and more the Armenian military has been responsible for very serious abuses. The United Nations has concluded them, the European Court of Human Rights has concluded, independent groups like Amnesty International have talked about the abuses of your armed forces. If you want to change the dynamic with this new government, are you prepared to say “yes, we have been responsible for serious abuses in the past”.
Armenian Foreign Minister was helpless to respond to the BBC reporter’s question and spoke about "security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh," while Sackur finally responded by saying:
"No one asks why the Armenians live in Nagorno-Karabakh, the main question is what the Armenian armed forces are doing there, because Nagorno-Karabakh is not Armenian territory.”
Stephen Sackur further cited the Human Rights Watch Report of 1995, which stated that “Armenian forces, with the support of the Republic of Armenia were responsible for the majority of abuses during that period of war. And as recent as 2017, the European Court of Human Rights delivered 12 judgments concerning Armenia, 11 found the country in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights.”
It should be noted that Armenia has refused to abide by the resolutions of the UN and other international organizations to withdraw its troops from occupied Azerbaijanis territories for 25 years now. The peace negotiations mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by Russia, US and France have yielded absolutely no results. Today, Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent Azerbaijani regions remain under Armenian control. The occupation has forced one million Azerbaijanis leave their homes.
Recently, Armenia has stepped up its war rhetoric against Azerbaijan. In March, Defence Minister Tonoyan threatened to occupy more Azerbaijani territories in case war resumed between the two South Caucasus countries.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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