“No diplomatic solution” for Artsakh, says PM Nikol Pashinyan

YEREVAN—“The Karabakh issue, at least at this stage, has no diplomatic solution,” announced Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in a Facebook Live address to the nation. The statement comes after last minute talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts seemingly broke down in Moscow. Pashinyan added that Azerbaijan had continued to dismiss all of Armenia’s compromise proposals, with their only demand—the recuperation of Artsakh—being unacceptable to Armenia. “We proved in the 1990s that there was no Armenia without Artsakh,” the Prime Minister said, adding that with diplomatic efforts now having expired, “the situation leaves us with no alternative to victory.”

In a rare expression of solidarity with his successor, former President Serzh Sargsyan concurred with the Prime Minister, sharing his view that no genuine negotiations had taken place since Aliyev rejected a settlement to the conflict in 2011. Sargsyan, along with former presidents Robert Kocharyan and Levon Ter-Petrosyan, announced his intention to form a united front around the government in the interest of defeating this existential threat to the Armenian nation, as did two former presidents of Artsakh. 

Pashinyan also praised Russia and Iran for their role in trying to maintain stability in the region. Ending his live broadcast, the Prime Minister called on the Armenian people to rise up in defense of the homeland, including raising volunteer Fedayee units to free up professional combat troops to join the fight. 

President Arayik Harutyunyan of Artsakh echoed the PM’s declaration that the people of Armenia and Artsakh must do their part to secure a military victory, foreseeing long-term combat actions ahead. “I once again call on all the citizens of Artsakh liable for military service who are now in Mother Armenia to return and stand by your brothers shoulder to shoulder,” he wrote in a Facebook post. 

A video shared by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense, purported to have been filmed near an abandoned village the Azeris call Bala Soltani south of Artsakh, was noted by some outside observers as evidence that the Azerbaijanis were attempting to reach the Lachin corridor—a vital connection between Artsakh and the rest of Armenia—which lies some 30 miles away, in an attempt to cut off the republic from its supply lines. However, Armenian MoD spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan, in an interview with CivilNet, repeated that the previous day’s counteroffensive had succeeded in meeting its objectives, stating that these videos are produced by subversive commando units for domestic audiences. He later tweeted that small groups of Azeri commandos had been neutralized during continued fighting in the south.

A scene from the battlefield (Photo: Armenia MoD, October 21, 2020)

According to Hovhannisyan, Armenian forces have succeeded in dragging the Azerbaijani advance to a halt over the last 25 days, having exhausted their momentum and destroyed considerable amounts of material. During his nightly briefing, the MoD spokesman added that Armenian forces had decisively repelled Azeri offensives in the north as well as along the Arax River basin. He noted that most of the Azeri infantry units were unsupported by armor, suggesting that they might be running out. The Artsakh Defense Ministry released 62 new names of soldiers killed in combat today, bringing the total number of military casualties to 834. 

Also during the press briefing, Haykak Arshamyan, director of Armenia Fund’s Armenian operations, announced the launch of a new subscription-based membership platform, which would allow Diasporans to donate small amounts of funds on a monthly basis to help finance the variety of projects expected to be launched in Artsakh. Arshamyan added that most of the 137 million dollars collected thus far had already been put towards humanitarian causes and that full accounting will be made available after the war. Varoujan Avetikyan, the CEO of the Insurance Foundation for Servicemen explained that this fund, which is supported by the Armenian government, is meant to disburse financial assistance to the families of killed or wounded servicemembers, urging people to keep donating to the fund given the large numbers of casualties expected in the continuing war. 

During a meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg agreed on their commitment to pursuing a peaceful resolution to the conflict. President Sarkissian was firm in his stance that a ceasefire is severely undermined by the interventions of NATO member country Turkey, which has supported Azerbaijan politically, diplomatically and militarily while introducing Islamic terrorists to the region. 

Back in the US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is preparing for his meeting with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is scheduled to take place on Friday. Pompeo described the entire situation as “complicated” during a press conference on Wednesday and reinforced the Trump administration’s views that both sides must honor a ceasefire to de-escalate the conflict and that no other country should be getting involved. “I’m anxious to hear from them what they’re seeing on the ground and how we might get closer to what it is we think is not only in the United States’ best interest, but in each of their countries’ best interest as well,” he concluded.

Raffi Elliott

Raffi Elliott

Columnist & Armenia Correspondent
Raffi Elliott is a Canadian-Armenian political risk analyst and journalist based in Yerevan, Armenia. A former correspondent and columnist for the Armenian Weekly, his focus is socioeconomic, political, business and diplomatic issues in Armenia.
Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She reports on international women's rights, South Caucasus politics, and diasporic identity. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Democracy in Exile, and Girls on Key Press. She holds master's degrees in journalism and Near Eastern studies from New York University.

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