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U.S. Defense Secretary Travels To Kyiv; Two Civilians Killed In Kherson

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has said that while Yerevan and Baku have agreed on basic principles for a peace treaty, the two sides are “still speaking different diplomatic languages” in talks.

Addressing the fall session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that opened in Yerevan on November 18, Pashinian lamented that Azerbaijan has yet to publicly commit to three principles for achieving peace that he said have already been agreed upon.

Pashinian also said the lack of commitment deepens the atmosphere of mistrust and that rhetoric from Azerbaijani officials leaves open the prospect for renewed “military aggression” against Armenia.

“Yerevan and Baku still speak different diplomatic languages,” he said, adding that “we often do not understand each other.”

Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had held several rounds of peace talks under EU mediation before Baku launched a lightning offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh that ended three decades of rule by ethnic Armenians in the disputed territory.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars in the last three decades over the region, which had been a majority ethnic-Armenian enclave since the Soviet collapse and is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.

The region initially came under the control of ethnic-Armenian forces, backed by the Armenian military, in separatist fighting that ended in 1994.

During a war in 2020, however, Azerbaijan took back parts of Nagorno-Karabakh along with surrounding territory that Armenian forces had claimed during the earlier conflict.

After a cease-fire agreement was quickly reached between ethnic-Armenian forces and Azerbaijan following Baku’s offensive in September, nearly 100,000 ethnic Armenians fled to Armenia as Baku took control of the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We have good and bad news about the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process,” Pashinian was quoted as saying.

“It is good that the basic principles of peace with Azerbaijan have been agreed upon,” he said, referring to three principles for peace that he announced in late October had been worked out during talks with Aliyev in Brussels that were mediated by European Council President Charles Michel.

Those principles, he told the Armenian parliament at the time, were: Armenia and Azerbaijan recognizing each other’s territorial integrity, that the delimitation of the countries’ borders be based on the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration, and that regional trade, transport, and communication be opened while respecting sovereign jurisdictions.

The downside is that by not acknowledging the agreement, Pashinian said, Baku was deepening the atmosphere of mistrust.

Pashinian also accused Azerbaijani officials of calling Armenia “Western Azerbaijan.”

“This seems to us to be a preparation for a new war, a new military aggression against Armenia, and it is one of the main obstacles to progress in the peace process,” Pashinian said.

The Armenian prime minister’s comments came after Baku said on November 16 that it would not participate in normalization talks at the foreign-minister level with Yerevan that were planned in the United States this month.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said the decision was in response to what it called “one-sided and biased remarks” made by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien against Azerbaijan.

In September, Baku withdrew from two meetings planned by the European Union. The same month Aliyev refused to attend a round of negotiations with Pashinian that were to be mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and the EU’s Michel.

Baku cited France’s allegedly “biased position” against Azerbaijan as the reason for skipping those talks in Spain.

During the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session in Yerevan on November 17, Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian said there was a historic opportunity to establish peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Simonian also said Armenia is sincerely interested in normalizing relations with Turkey, having open borders and transportation links in the region, and engaging in negotiations without preconditions.

“I have a great hope that these negotiations will yield the desired results in the near future,” Simonian said, stressing that the region needs peace.

On November 17, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Pia Kauma welcomed Armenia’s expressed interest in reaching a deal with Azerbaijan.

“It is important to maintain momentum in the peace process and for Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach a full settlement,” Kauma said. “We recognize that the background is very painful, but despite the difficulties, this moment should be seen as an opportunity for all to forge a new path for the region based on peaceful coexistence, mutual security, and economic prosperity.”