The discussions that followed my December 24 interview on the Nagorno-Karabakh [(NK)] peace process revealed a number of falsifications, the recording of which is extremely important. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote this on Facebook, and he enumerated these “falsifications,” noting as follows:
1. The participation of the Azerbaijani population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast [(NKAO)] in the determination of the final status of NK as part of the modern-day population of NK is recorded in the Madrid Principles, which the Armenian side has accepted as a basis for negotiations since 2007. Fortunately or unfortunately, we cannot say that any politician of Armenia or Artsakh [(Nagorno-Karabakh)] was not aware of it because the Madrid Principles are published on the Internet since a long time ago, before I became Prime Minister. This begs the question: why have the former high-ranking [Armenian] officials not risen up against this?
2. Do you remember that after November 9, the topic arose that there was an opportunity to stop the 44-day [Artsakh] war [last] in exchange for guaranteeing the right of Azerbaijanis living in [Artsakh’s] Shushi [city] during the NKAO and/or their family members to return to Shushi? Today's same circles were saying in the fall of 2020 that thus, there was a chance to keep Shushi Armenian and I did not go for it, to which I countered that 90 percent of the population of Shushi in the NKAO was Azerbaijani, how do you imagine an Armenian settlement with a 90-percent Azerbaijani population? And at that time I was accused of saying that Shushi is not Armenian. Why are those same people upset now when the content of the negotiations that existed before I became Prime Minister is being talked about? In the fall of 2020, they were in favor of the return of Azerbaijanis living in Shushi, now against? Were they in favor in 2007, now—against?
3. And now they keep repeating that only the authorities elected by the people of Artsakh can represent the people of Artsakh in the negotiation process. Who is arguing? This is one of my most important theses since 2018. Another question arises. Why didn't those same people make a fuss when Artsakh was being removed from the negotiation process by the hands of [then Armenian President] R. Kocharyan in 1998? But now do not suddenly think that they want to return Artsakh to the negotiating table. They want to remove Armenia from the negotiating table. Taking this opportunity, let me reveal a secret. [Armenian ex-President] Serzh Sargsyan and the [former ruling] RPA [party] accuse me that after I became Prime Minister, I demanded from the mediators the return of NK to the negotiating table, whereby I allegedly worsened our negotiation situation. In 2016, Serzh Sargsyan himself demanded from the mediators to immediately engage NK in the negotiation process. Has our negotiating position worsened with that? By the way, at that same time Serzh Sargsyan attempted to substantiate that the Azerbaijanis living in the NKAO should participate in the issue of determining the future status of Artsakh in the same proportion as they lived in the NKAO in 1988. Why did he do this? Because he realized that by the logic of the negotiation content, at the time of the supposed referendum which may take place 100 years later, the Azerbaijanis may be a majority in NK. And was he able to solve this problem? Of course not, and this is the reason why in April 2018 he voiced the hopeless state of the negotiation process, the stalemate, and the impending war.
4. The propaganda of well-known circles in our scene has instilled a misunderstanding that the terms "final status of NK," "self-determination" definitely means the independence of NK. Of course, this is not the case because autonomous province is a status, too, region is a status, too, independence is a status, too. Does the content of my inherited negotiations clarify these issues? Does it clarify what is meant by saying status? Of course not. The Armenian side has always been proud of the provision that the question or questions being put on the potential referendum on the specification of the status of NK shall not have any wording restrictions and can presuppose any status. Any status, yes, can mean independence. But any status can also mean a province within Azerbaijan. If we add to this the fact that the content of the negotiations does not specify in which area the referendum should take place, does not specify who should word the issue to be put to the referendum, it turns out that according to my inherited negotiation content, the following question also could have been put the referendum: Do you agree that NK should be an autonomous province within Azerbaijan? The content of the negotiation does not clarify also if people vote "no," what does it mean? Independence? Or 0 status?
By the way, there is also a very legitimate question in the core of the discussions. What is the purpose of talking now about the provisions concerning the Azerbaijani population of NK in the content of the negotiations? The goal is one: to protect the right of Artsakh people displaced as a result of the 44-day war to live in Artsakh under Armenian jurisdiction. But this is a matter of negotiation tactics and a matter for further discussion.