Nikol Pashinyan on Karabakh: “We Will Defend Our Homeland”

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Nikol Pashinyan. Wikimedia

Nikol Pashinyan, leader of the political opposition in Armenia now expected to be voted in as Armenia’s next prime minister, has discussed his view of the ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan told BBC on April 29: “The Karabakh question must be resolved through dialogue. As you know, for many years Azerbaijan has behaved very aggressively, creating very negative conditions for negotiations. If day in and day out we hear from Azerbaijan that they are planning to go to war with Armenia, that they plan to capture Yerevan – how can we have a constructive dialogue under these circumstances?

The current impression is that Azerbaijan’s goal is for Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia to surrender. This is an absurd, destructive attitude. So the first thing that is required is an appropriate atmosphere for dialogue, for negotiations. This is a necessary condition. If [Azerbaijan’s] goal is to destroy Armenia, and they have nothing else to talk about, or hear about – in his latest statements Ilham Aliyev spoke of plans to enter Yerevan – [then] Armenia and the international community have to come to certain conclusions.

Armenia has always been inclined towards dialogue, all governments of Armenia believed that the issue of Nagorno Karabakh should be resolved through dialogue, and we must rule out the rhetoric that leads us to believe that somebody is trying to resolve this issue by force.

We can’t have that. We are in the 21st century, and we are civilized countries, at least Armenia is. Hopefully you have been able to see that during the last twenty days [of peaceful protests].

But this does not mean that a civilized approach should be interpreted as weakness. Should there be any provocations by Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh, we will set all internal political issues aside and will focus exclusively on the defense of our homeland.”

Biography: Pashinyan leads the Civil Contract Party that is part of the opposition Yelk [Way Out] bloc in the National Assembly; in 2017 election Yelk won over 120,000 votes and came third. From 2012 to 2017, he was a member of parliament with opposition Armenian National Congress, led by ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan. From 1999 to 2012 Pashinyan was editor of Haykakan Zhamanak [Armenian Time] daily newspaper. Pashinyan was born in 1975 in Ijevan; from 1991 to 1995 he studied journalism at the Yerevan State University. With his wife and former colleague Anna Hakobyan they have four children.

Update: On May 1, the majority Republican Party faction in the National Assembly voted down Pashinyan’s nomination for prime minister by a vote of 56 to 45; Republican MPs said they needed more time to review Pashinyan’s candidacy. A new vote is expected on May 8, Pashinyan remains the only candidate.

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