Armenian PM Floats ‘Mutual Concession’ De-Escalation with Azerbaijan

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gives an interview to AFP in Yerevan on October 6, 2020. - Battles raged between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on October 6, with both sides vowing to pursue the conflict despite increasing international pressure for a ceasefire. (Photo by - …
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Armenia’s prime minister on Tuesday said the country is ready to make “mutual concessions” with Azerbaijan to resolve their ongoing conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“Conflicts need to be resolved on the basis of mutual concessions,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told Agence France-Presse (AFP) from Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.

“Nagorno-Karabakh is ready, and Armenia is ready, to mirror the concessions that Azerbaijan is ready to make,” Pashinyan said, implying that Baku would need to be the first to concede something in the dispute.

Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh continued for an eleventh day on Wednesday between Muslim Azerbaijan and the government of the separatist region, with is majority Christian Armenian. The state of Armenia has neither sovereignty nor political power in Nagorno-Karabakh, which calls itself the Republic of Artsakh.

The clashes started on September 27, with both countries accusing the other of initiating the conflict. Since then, both sides say the other has fired directly into their territory, beyond the disputed region.

Nagorno-Karabakh legally belongs to Azerbaijan but is inhabited by a majority of ethnic Armenians, who seized the region from Baku in a war that began after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The war killed at least 30,000 people before an uneasy 1994 ceasefire brought it to a close. Sporadic skirmishes between the two sides near Nagorno-Karabakh have continued ever since, but the intense fighting over the past two weeks has already surpassed any previous clashes since 1994.

Azerbaijani authorities on Wednesday accused Armenia of “launching missiles to target the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that carries Azerbaijani crude to Turkey and on to global markets,” Al Jazeera reported. Azeri authorities said that the country’s military had successfully repelled the missile attack. Shushan Stepanian, a spokeswoman for Armenia’s defense ministry, “denied that the Armenian forces were targeting oil and gas facilities” in Azerbaijan.

Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan told the BBC on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to “uphold certain security commitments” and aid Armenia as a military ally if Azerbaijani forces attack the country. Pashinyan said Putin made the commitment to him in a telephone conversation. The Russian president referred to security commitments agreed to under the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), to which Armenia belongs.

Putin seemed to confirm this promise on Wednesday, telling Russian state television that Moscow “will continue to fulfill its CSTO obligations toward Armenia,” according to Radio Free Europe (RFE).

“Putin added he is in constant contact with Pashinyan about the conflict and that Armenia has not indicated it is unhappy with the Kremlin’s actions on the matter,” RFE added.

According to the report, Putin also said that a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan “must be agreed upon ‘quickly,’ even if a resolution to the decades-old conflict takes longer.”

Russian state news agency TASS quoted Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday as saying that Baku “would return to talks with Armenia after the acute phase of military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region ends.”

Aliyev also said that he spoke to Putin by phone for the first time on Wednesday to discuss the conflict.

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