STEPANAKERT, Artsakh (A.W.)—Armenia’s newly elected Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reaffirmed his belief on Wednesday that Artsakh’s authorities must be included in the negotiations in the Artsakh peace process.
“I am ready to negotiate with the President of Azerbaijan within the framework of the [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, but I believe that the format of the negotiations is flawed as long as one of the sides of the conflict—the Artsakh leadership—is not a part of the negotiations,” Pashinyan said during a meeting with Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan in Stepanakert.
A day earlier, during his address to National Assembly before being elected, Pashinyan had promised to continue the peaceful negotiations and had stressed that it is vital for Artsakh to become an active part of the peace process and join the negotiation “as indicated by a decision of the [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] OSCE Minsk Group leaders.”
The Artsakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly called for its direct participation in the negotiation talks for the settlement of the conflict. Most recently, last October, following the meeting between the presidents and foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva, Artsakh’s Foreign Ministry announced that the restoration of full-fledged talks with the direct participation of the Republic of Artsakh at all the stages is a step in the right direction to achieving real progress in the settlement process.
Pashinyan’s first working visit to Artsakh came a day after his election as Prime Minister. In Stepanakert, the newly elected PM participated in the events dedicated to the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, the formation of the Artsakh Defense Army, and the 26th anniversary of the Liberation of Shushi.
Pashinyan, accompanied by President Sahakyan, also participated in a special consultation with Artsakh Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Levon Mnatsakanyan. “A wide range of issues related to the strengthening of military cooperation between Armenia and Artsakh and improving the mechanism of restraint of the enemy were discussed during the consultation,” read a short statement released by Pashinyan’s office.
Earlier in the day, authorities from Armenia and Artsakh marched from Artsakh’s capital’s Renaissance Square and visited the Stepanakert Memorial, where they laid flowers and wreaths on the tombs of soldiers and freedom fighters killed during WWII and the Artsakh Liberation War.
Pashinyan and Sahakyan also attended the opening of the Armenian Dram Museum in Shushi, which was established with the technical and professional assistance of the Central Bank of Armenia. The museum features coins and notes from the ancient Armenian Tsopk Kingdom, Tigran the Great, Artavazd II, Artashes II, Cilician Armenia, Russian Empire, the First Republic of Armenia, Soviet Armenia, and post-1991 Armenia.
Pashinyan to Visit Russia Next Week
Pashinyan’s first foreign trip will be to Russia next week, where he hopes to discuss several issues regarding bilateral relations between the two countries. Russian President Putin and held a telephone conversation with Pashinyan, during which the two expressed readiness to continue making joint efforts “for the furtherance of the Armenian-Russian strategic partnership and deepening of integration processes,” according to a press statement published by Pashinyan’s office.
The two leaders are set to discuss these issues during the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Sochi—is the highest supranational body of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)—slated for May 14
The EAEU includes Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Pashinyan has indicated on several occasions that his government does not plan on leaving the Moscow-led union, which Armenia joined in Jan. 2015.