Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has told the European Parliament that he fears further Azerbaijani aggression against his country.
Speaking to the Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg on October 17, Pashinyan said Azerbaijan was not reciprocating Armenia’s offers of peace and co-operation.
This follows more than 100,000 refugees fleeing into Armenia after the Azerbaijani army forced the capitulation of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan.
Now many Armenians fear that Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev will take advantage of ill-defined borders to make a push for Armenian territory.
Pashinyan cited analysts who said that Aliyev “is intentionally leaving ambiguity” in order to justify military aggression.
This follows similar comments made to Brussels Signal by Armenia’s representative to the EU, Tigran Balayan, that his country fears imminent invasion by Azerbaijan.
VIDEO: Armenia’s ambassador-designate to the EU, Tigran Balayan, says his country fears an ‘imminent’ invasion by Azerbaijan and feels let down by the lack of Russian support following tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh.@tbalayan | #NagornoKarabakh https://t.co/MU39Pq3qy0
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 9, 2023
Azerbaijani officials have said that their government is only seeking to defend its sovereign territory from Armenian separatists. Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding provinces were until recently ruled by the Armenia-backed breakaway Republic of Artsakh.
Azerbaijani media now says that Nagorno-Karabakh “separatists” have re-located to the Armenian capital Yerevan and plan to carry on their struggle from there.
In the Parliament, Pashinyan was unflinching in calling the Azerbaijani takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh and its fallout as “ethnic cleansing”.
Following the effective depopulation of the enclave, he said he did “not understand the surprised faces of international officials”.
He added that Azerbaijan had “demonstrated its intent” to make life impossible for the local ethnic Armenians through its nine-month blockade of the enclave.
Starting in December 2022, supplies were cut off to Nagorno-Karabakh including medical supplies and basic foodstuffs. This prompted many warnings of ethnic cleansing. Pashinyan thanked the Parliament for what he said was its calling the situation what it was.
The latest Parliament report, adopted on October 5, called for the EU to drop its ties and agreements with Azerbaijan.
Speaking to Brussels Signal, Azerbaijani officials including Ambassador Vaqif Sadıqov and Hikmet Hajiyev, the foreign policy advisor to Aliyev, said the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians would be offered full rights as Azerbaijani citizens, including religious and language rights.
Speaking to the Parliament, Pashinyan said it was “the height of cynicism” to ask why the refugees did not stay and had left their homes en masse.
He placed heavy blame on Russia and Russian peacekeepers for failing to prevent the Azerbaijani takeover of the enclave and the mass exodus. He said certain “allies” of Armenia, alluding to Moscow, had also been publicly appealing for the overthrow of Armenia’s democratically elected government.
Pashinyan also said that Armenia was looking to foster closer ties with the EU.
“I can announce clearly and with confidence that Armenia is ready to be closer to the European Union, as close as the European Union would consider possible,” he told the MEPs.
Europe will continue to assist in addressing the humanitarian consequences of Armenians who fled Nagorno-Karabakh.
We support Armenia's democratic reforms and the strengthening of our cooperation. pic.twitter.com/ZfsT93CkGk
— Roberta Metsola (@EP_President) October 17, 2023