Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan participated in the panel discussion on "Cooperation in the conditions of competition, building peace and building a safer world" with the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili within the framework of the "6th Paris Peace Forum".
PM Pashinyan gave a speech, in which he particularly said,
“Honorable Prime Minister Garibashvili,
Dear participants of the 6th "Paris Peace Conference",
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to President Macron for the wonderful organization of the Forum, warm hospitality and invitation.
One of the pillar records of the Forum documents is that 2 billion people worldwide, live in conflict-affected areas. From the point of view of the Republic of Armenia, it would be more precise to write that sentence as follows: as a result of ethnic cleansings, more than 500,000 Armenians no longer have the opportunity to live in their homeland.
500,000 is the number of Armenians who were forcibly displaced from Azerbaijan and became refugees as a result of ethnic cleansing. About 360,000 of them were forcibly displaced from Azerbaijan since the beginning of the 90s, as a result of the Sumgait and Baku massacres and Armenophobia. Since then, Armenophobia has been the state policy in Azerbaijan.
And before that, under the Soviet Union, due to administrative and psychological pressures, Armenians had to leave Nakhichevan and many other areas of Azerbaijan.
Around 26,000 Armenians flee Nagorno-Karabakh during the 44-day war of 2020. And as a result of the large-scale attack and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19, around 105,000 Armenians were forced to leave Nagorno-Karabakh within a week.
For long time, we have alerted the international community that such a prospect becoming more and more realistic, especially after the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor in December 2022.
But the international community did not take any adequate measures and we cannot blame those people who claim that the forced displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, took place with the silent or behind-the-scenes agreement of some of the international players.
Nevertheless, dear participants, I have not come to this peace Forum to talk about war. I have come to talk about peace, even though Azerbaijan has started to call the Republic of Armenia “West Azerbaijan” after implementing yet the minimum of its plan of Armenian cleansing.
The concept of so-called Western Azerbaijan, which is a concept of preparing a new war against the Republic of Armenia, is propagated in schools, universities, and mass media of Azerbaijan.
And all this despite the fact that we seem to be close to signing a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, notwithstanding the fact that the abovementioned issues raise significant questions regarding the sincerity of Azerbaijan.
But it does not shake our commitment to the peace agenda and we hope to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan in the coming months based on the following three principles agreed upon in the negotiations held in Brussels:
Principle number 1. Armenia and Azerbaijan fully recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, based on the understanding that Armenia’s territory covers 29.800 km2 and Azerbaijan’s 86.600 km2.
Principle number 2. Armenia and Azerbaijan confirm their unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration as a political framework for the delimitation.
For your information Almaty Declaration was signed by the 12 republics of the Soviet Union on December 21, 1991. Under that declaration, the 12 republics of the former USSR, including Azerbaijan and Armenia, recognize each other's territorial integrity, sovereignty, the inviolability of existing, that is, administrative borders, and therefore the existing administrative borders between the republics of the Soviet Union become state borders.
Principle number 3. Future transport arrangements for unblocking transport and economic links in the region will respect the principles of sovereignty, jurisdiction, reciprocity and equality of all countries.
We reached an agreement on these principles during the negotiations with the President of Azerbaijan in Brussels, and these agreements were recorded in the statements of the President of the EU Council, Charles Michel, following the May 14 and July 15 2023 trilateral meetings.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also expressed their support for these principles, which is expressed in the quadrilateral statement of Granada signed by Charles Michel, Olaf Scholz, Emmanuel Macron and me.
And if Azerbaijan doesn’t reject those principles, it means that signing a peace treaty with Azerbaijan in the coming months becomes very realistic. Unfortunately, the president of Azerbaijan refused to participate in the five-party meeting in Granada, last month.
The planned trilateral meeting in Brussels in October did not take place, and I have not received an invitation to the next meeting from Charles Michel. I hope our EU partners are committed to their obligations.
Honorable participants of this Forum,
Our region, the South Caucasus, needs peace, which is a situation where all the countries of the region live with open borders, are connected by active economic, political, cultural ties, and have accumulated experience and tradition of solving all issues through tools of diplomacy and dialogue.
To provide such a situation will be very difficult without reopening the transport communications, and taking this into account, the Government of the Republic of Armenia has presented the "Crossroads of Peace" project.
This is a plan to connect our regional countries, including Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkiye, with railways, roads, cables, gas pipelines, power lines, or strengthen existing connections. As you know, at the moment we do not have any functioning road, nor any functioning railway, cable, pipeline or power line with either Turkey or Azerbaijan, and we propose to change this situation positively.
The "Crossroads of Peace" project will also bring benefits to Georgia and Iran, including bilateral, as well as in terms of strengthening ties with Azerbaijan, Turkiye, and Armenia. The details are provided in our Crossroads of Peace brochure, which is distributed to you, and I hope that we will be able to implement the project as a guarantee of stable and long-term peace in our region.
The implementation of this project will be beneficial not only for our region, but for international trade, connectivity and stability. And I hope for support not only regional countries, but from the international community in general. Definitely we are in front of very important, let’s say historic crossroads.
Let’s make it crossroads of peace”.
Then the Prime Minister answered the questions of the panel discussion moderator and the audience.
Moderator, Special Advisor of Institut Montaigne Michel Duclos - Prime Minister Pashinyan, I think that the missed opportunity of the Granada meeting disappointed you. Some people say that the European leaders, including of course France, did something wrong, for example, by not inviting Turkey or others. How do you assess what happened in Granada?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Thank you. You know, the fact is that the meeting of Granada and its format was agreed already on July 15, 2023 in Brussels. Therefore, it was not a matter of planning in a week, or ten days, or even a month in advance.
The three of us, President Michel, President Aliyev and myself, had agreed on that, and we had a preliminary agreement on the format of the Granada meeting, which I think took place in June. The first five-sided meeting was held there, and we reached a preliminary agreement that the next five-party meeting will take place. It is a very important circumstance that the list of participants was decided there, and after that, on July 15, we reaffirmed it in Brussels.
By the way, it was announced about it publicly. We did not know, I was not informed, that there was another agenda, because when we were preparing for the Granada meeting, the perception was that everything was agreed. The refusal of the President of Azerbaijan to participate in the Granada meeting, I think, was not related to other factors, it was just a matter of addressing an already agreed issue.
Moderator, Special Advisor of Institut Montaigne Michel Duclos – Dou you think Iran has a specific plan regarding the problem between Armenia and Azerbaijan?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - We know that Iran has clearly stated that it supports the peace process on the basis of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and indivisibility of borders. By the way, these are the principles I mentioned in my introductory remarks. And these principles were also agreed upon during the tripartite meeting in Brussels.
By the way, the purpose of the Granada meeting was to reaffirm the already agreed principles. This is very important. You see, now many people are discussing, trying to evaluate the possibility of signing a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia. There is no exaggeration, if Azerbaijan reaffirms what has already been agreed, it will mean that 70 percent of the work is done. Now the most important nuance is whether Azerbaijan will reconfirm what was already agreed in Brussels during our negotiations, set down in Charles Michel's public statements.
Ambassador of Azerbaijan to France Leyla Abdullayeva - Thank you. I am the ambassador of Azerbaijan to France. I want to welcome the speakers and you, the moderator. I would like to address the issue that you, dear moderator, addressed. France is worried about the so-called threat that Azerbaijan may pose France against Armenia. Let me emphasize that this fear is completely ungrounded, because what Azerbaijan has done so far is to reassert its sovereignty over its territory, which, by the way, is recognized by the international community. So, in fact, we got what belonged to Azerbaijan under international law. And as Azerbaijan has already announced and reaffirmed, we are interested in peace. We are not only interested, Azerbaijan has also initiated the normalization process with Armenia immediately after the end of the 2020 war.
And of course, Azerbaijan supports direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan. And I would also like to refer to the Granada meeting and Azerbaijan's position regarding that meeting. The President of Azerbaijan clearly stated that on the day before the Granada meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France visited Armenia and announced the decision to arm and send arms to Armenia. Was this really aimed at peace and normalization of relations? Arming Armenia, arming a country with revanchist ideology. On the other hand, France was going to participate in the meeting as a mediator. Thus, the country that publicly supports one of the parties, and publicly announces the decision to send weapons, and claims to be a mediator. On the other hand, the leaders rejected the participation of the Turkish president. Azerbaijan gave this explanation publicly. And I would like to repeat the position of Azerbaijan, which is about the normalization of relations, the restoration of lasting peace in the region. Azerbaijan's principled position regarding the peace treaty is that this treaty should be based on international law, recognition of internationally recognized borders, and recognition of the sovereignty of all countries in the region. Thank you.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - We heard about Azerbaijan's intentions, which I consider positive. But on the other hand, I would like to draw your attention to the increasing wording by Azerbaijan, calling the Republic of Armenia "Western Azerbaijan". This is a very disturbing message and it is very important that this narrative is sponsored by the official government. But there is a very simple question - there is no need for additional arguments. If Azerbaijan reaffirms the three principles on which we reached an agreement with the participation of the President of Azerbaijan, it will mean that we can continue to move forward.
I would like to address the issue related to France and Armenia. Every sovereign country has the ability to have an army and acquire weapons, etc., etc.
Moderator, Special Advisor of Institut Montaigne Michel Duclos - Every country has the right to defend itself.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - Yes, I said opportunity, I should have said right. Azerbaijan also buys a huge amount of weapons. Azerbaijan's budget for acquiring weapons is three times more than that of Armenia. But, in general, my main message is what I have already said, if Azerbaijan reaffirms the three principles that have already been agreed upon, it will mean that the conclusion of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan in the coming months will be more than realistic. Let's move forward.
Question – My question is addressed to both of you. Israel's war against Hamas reduces attention to developments in Ukraine, and in general, developments in Eastern Europe and beyond. Do you fear that the wars in the Caucasus are being left out of that attention and that the EU enlargement process may gradually wane?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan - First of all, I would like to welcome the decision of the EU Commission, which recommends European Council to grant Georgia candidate status. This is very important. I will not congratulate Prime Minister Garibashvili now, I will officially congratulate when the European Council makes a decision. We think this is a very important process and we are following developments very closely. We hope and wish Georgia every success on this path.
Unfortunately, as Prime Minister Gharibashvili said, we have many conflicts in the world, and our mutual task is to continue working to address all conflicts, realizing that it is not an easy thing. If it was easy, it would have been solved a long time ago. Unfortunately, we are now in a situation where we have a personal and political responsibility to address the conflict and do our best to succeed.