Peace can't be achieved through the unilateral actions of Armenia, we will be able to have real peace if Azerbaijan will reciprocate Armenian's efforts, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told BBC Hard Talk.
"Peace can't be achieved through the unilateral actions of Armenia because we will be able to have real peace if Azerbaijan will reciprocate Armenian's efforts. Becoming prime minister of Armenia, I proposed a new formula for peace," he noted referring to the formula that solution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be acceptable for people of Armenia, for people of Nagorno-Karabakh and people of Azerbaijan.
"And I'm first Armenian leader ever saying that any solution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be acceptable for the Azerbaijani people too. But unfortunately, Azerbaijani president didn't reciprocate to my proposal," he noted.
Pashinyan said that Azerbaijan launched a military attack on Armenia.
"And it wasn't separate action. Within a long time, Azerbaijani president developed bellicose rhetoric saying that he's going to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict using military force. As a result of that bellicose rhetoric Azerbaijani government is facing the challenge to explain their own society why they can't, they couldn't solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through false," he added.
Host Stephen Sackur, in turn, noted that PM has taken 'a series of provocative actions, which have heightened tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh,' as in August, PM went to Stepanakert in Nagorno Karabakh and make a speech saying that 'Artsakh is Armenia. Period.'
The PM responded: "Every time hearing mutual accusation of each other who started, who violated the ceasefire regime. And this continues, again and again, we think a long time, and that's why we're proposing to establish international mechanism is for a ceasefire for investigating ceasefire violations."
"Second, why I said that Nagorno-Karabakh, Artsakh is Armenia. First of all, Nagorno-Karabakh for several thousand years is populated by indigenous Armenian people. And by the way, Artsakh's name is aged for several thousand years," he noted.
The host suggested not to consider the issue in the context of a thousand-year history, but to turn to the realities of today. He noted that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that quite clearly demands the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces "from the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan."
"The document of a UN security concert didn't mention the Republic of Armenia or armed force of the Republic of Armenia. There is written about of Nagorno-Karabakh-Armenians self-defending forces. It's first. Second, you proposed to look at reality. Reality is that in the moment of this conflict, 80–90% of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh were Armenians. And Azerbaijan tried to clean this land from Armenian and conflict started from this moment," the PM noted.
The host noted that his question concerns Pashinyan's promise to seek peace.
“For example, I note that your government plans to build a new road from Armenia into Nagorno Karabakh following a Southern route, which goes through a whole sway of the Azerbaijani territory. Now a group of MEPs in Brussels - who've looked at this plan and who specialize in caucuses politics - have described it as a violation of international law. It will symbolically entrench the illegal occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. We very much deplore this initiative. Will you stop building that road?" Stephen Sackur wonders.
“It isn't Armenian government to build any roads in Nagorno Karabakh. It's the Nagorno Karabakh government acting in the framework of interest of its own population. And, you know, in Karabakh people are living. Human beings are living and they have needs. Needs for supplies, needs for food, needs for mobility. And Azerbaijan, by the way, is exercising the policy of isolation and blockade for Nagorno-Karabakh. And by the way, for Armenia too," he said.
The host noted that Pashinyan's strategy resembles the strategy of his predecessors. "Where is the evidence that on this core issue for the Armenian people, you're bringing something different to the table?" The host asked.
"I won't agree with you naming our position nationalistic, because Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are under existential threat.
And what are we proposing? We are proposing Azerbaijan to renounce any possibility of the use of force for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict solution. We should agree on a very simple formula. That is no military solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," the PM said.
When asked if the PM is now ready to say that in the past, especially in the early 1990s and late 1980s, Armenian forces have committed several serious crimes related to human rights violations during the war in Karabakh and is he now ready to admit them and say sorry for them, Pashinyan noted: "Any war is a chain of tragedies. That's why we are saying that let's renounce, let's refuse any possibility of using force for solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and any peace is a compromise and Armenia always was ready and is ready for compromise."
To the clarifying question, is he ready to say sorry as there is even the catalog of the European Court of Human Rights on human rights violations by the Armenian military, Pashinyan noted: "European court has a similar catalog on Azerbaijanis atrocities."
"And we should mention the Sumgait events that happened in 1998 in the late 90s when Azerbaijani government and other Azerbaijanis initiated pogroms against the Armenians of Sumgait city in Azerbaijan, in the Azerbaijani capital," the PM said.
The host continued to insist, “I just wanted to know whether you're prepared to take responsibility and apologize for those abuses and crimes committed by Armenia's forces. It's quite simple. Yes or no."
"It should be proved who exercises atrocities. And I think Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan are victims and we can prove that anyway, anytime," the PM added.