March 25
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The wording “Armenian ethnic community of Nagorno-Karabakh” is not acceptable for Artsakh. Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Foreign Minister David Babayan told Armenian about this, referring to the document publicized by the "Siloviki" Telegram channel, which, according to the publication, became a key topic of conversation between Pashinyan, Aliyev and Erdogan in Prague, and one of the points of that document is that the government of Azerbaijan will propose a representative who will work with a representative appointed by the “Armenian ethnic community of Nagorno-Karabakh” to discuss the rights and security of the people of Karabakh.

"We [i.e., Artsakh] have had statehood for centuries. Moreover, since 1923, we have also had internationally recognized statehood as the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast [(region)], which evolved into the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, or of Artsakh. It is clear that Azerbaijanis would like to do everything to prevent our statehood and present us as an aboriginal people who have some rights. But this is not the case," said Babayan.

The FM stressed that Artsakh cannot be against the improvement of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but as a result of the improvement of these relations, Artsakh cannot be recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.

"Any status of Artsakh within Azerbaijan is unacceptable. Artsakh does not see itself as part of Azerbaijan; this is our red line. We need to be principled, especially in this difficult situation. Principle is the most important component of the ‘immune system’ for us. As for the Artsakh-Azerbaijan negotiations, Stepanakert has said for years that it is ready to negotiate with Baku, but the question is in what format. And that format is accepted internationally. We are talking about the OSCE Minsk Group, within its framework, Artsakh was recognized as both a negotiating party and a party to the conflict. Therefore, we have never been against negotiations with Baku, but it should be carried out in an internationally accepted format," David Babayan emphasized.

According to the Artsakh official, the international community should respond accordingly to Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev's statements that the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are citizens of Azerbaijan.

"What is this? A call or a foreshadowing for deportation? I repeat, we are ready to negotiate with Azerbaijan as equals. Of course, we realize that the situation is difficult now, Azerbaijan is trying to take advantage of the opportunity; but that does not mean that we should allow it. We have to defend our rights, dignity with our teeth because if there is no Artsakh, there will be no Armenia either, and we will not be morally either," said the FM of Artsakh, adding that the salvation of Artsakh lies in the unity of Armenia-Artsakh-Armenian diaspora.

And reflecting on the recent anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia, David Babayan said: "He who hits Russia first hits Artsakh and Armenia."

"If there will be no Russian peacekeeping mission, then there will be no Artsakh. Now do we want for Artsakh not to exist? Yes, Russia is a brotherly country for us, but that does not mean that we are against the US, France, Iran, or any other country. We have a diaspora, and we are obligated to have good relations with all those countries where there is an Armenian diaspora. Now should we get worse with Russia and cut our ties with the 3 million Armenians [there]? I ask this question to those who have anti-Russian sentiments. The same applies to the US and other countries. Is Russophobia the only precondition for being good with the US, or vice versa? Armenian statehood will be destroyed with such approaches," added the Artsakh foreign minister.

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