Armenia ready to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan – PM

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Armenia is willing to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of neighboring Azerbaijan if Baku guarantees the safety and rights of the local population, which is primarily ethnic Armenians, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Monday.

During a news conference, Pashinyan stated that Azerbaijan’s territory comprises 86,600 square kilometers, which is significant because it contains the region in question. However, the president said that “at the same time, we say that the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh people’s rights and safety should be discussed” in future negotiations.

“If we and Azerbaijan understand each other correctly, Armenia will recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity within the named limits, while Baku will recognize Armenia’s territorial integrity within the area of 29,800 sq km,” he continued.

The prime minister also appealed for international safety guarantees, expressing concern that Azerbaijan could carry out “ethnic cleansing” in the region in the absence of such a mechanism.

Pashinyan went on to note that Azerbaijan and Armenia are currently engaged in intensive peace discussions, expressing hope that the parties will be able to resolve any differences promptly.

Echoing these remarks, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, said he hopes the negotiations will “bring about solid peace in the South Caucasus,” despite Nagorno-Karabakh “having been under Armenian occupation for about 30 years, with a million of Azeris having been driven out of their homes.”

The two leaders are scheduled to hold talks in Moscow on Thursday, and Russian President Vladimir Putin will act as mediator.

The two former Soviet republics have been locked in a conflict over the disputed region with a total population of around 150,000 for several decades. As the Soviet Union was collapsing, in 1988, Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan, unilaterally establishing its own republic three years later. This triggered a major war, which claimed the lives of thousands of people and ended in an internationally mediated truce in 1994.

Since then, however, Armenia and Azerbaijan have engaged in sporadic fighting over the area. One of the latest clashes took place in 2020; the tensions were diffused by Moscow’s efforts to mediate.

Pashinyan’s statement comes after he said in April that Yerevan and Baku could sign a peace treaty if they both recognize one another’s territorial integrity “without any ambiguity and pitfalls,” while agreeing not to have any territorial disputes in the future