13:56 GMT26 October 2020
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    In an exclusive parallel interview with Sputnik, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev have addressed the key issues related to the continuing clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh. Both leaders were given an equal amount of time and identical questions.

    Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has expressed confidence that Turkey is largely responsible for supporting the ongoing clashes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

    "It is now obvious that Turkey is the main sponsor of this war [...] By decision and under the patronage of Turkey, it was decided to start a war, an attack against Nagorno-Karabakh", he says.

    Pashinyan adds that Ankara was, among other things, responsible for hiring and transporting mercenaries to the conflict zone in the region. In his opinion, such a move was required because Azerbaijan alone would have no chance of fulfilling plans to wage a blitzkrieg to conquer Karabakh. The prime minister notes that these plans have failed to materialise regardless.

    Pashinyan Believes Turkey Wants to Continue Armenian Genocide

    The Armenian prime minister explains Turkey's interest in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by claiming that Ankara desires to continue the Armenian genocide, which took place in the early 20th century. Pashinyan believes that Turkey’s purported plans are not driven by emotion, but by Ankara's practical goals of expansion under its "imperialist policy".

    "I'm confident that Turkey […] seeks to return to the South Caucasus in order to continue its policy of Armenian genocide. It's important to know that it's a practical goal for Turkey. It's a practical goal, because Armenians of the South Caucasus is the last barrier for Turkey on its path towards the expansion to tnorth, east and south-east […] Turkey wants to redistribute, or, to be precise, to take control over the South Caucasus, so it would serve as a foothold for its further expansion", Pashinyan says.

    Heavy Casualties on Both Sides of the Conflict

    The Armenian prime minister assesses the situation in the region as difficult, noting that the armed conflict is "unprecedented" in the 21st century because all kinds of military equipment are involved in it.

    "The situation is very tense. There are a lot of losses on both sides. The Self-Defence Army of Nagorno-Karabakh is holding the defence, organising the defence, and I can assess the situation as quite difficult", Pashinyan stresses.

    Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Expands Into Regional One

    "The situation is no longer just about the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, but has gone beyond it. This is already a regional full-scale conflict that affects the specific interests of regional countries", the Armenian prime minister said.

    Armenia's 'Red Line' is Nagorno-Karabakh's Right to Self-Determination

    Speaking about the compromises that Armenia could accept in talks with Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, Pashinyan says that Yerevan is ready to take the steps that were outlined in the recent joint "Moscow statement" with Baku to restore the negotiating process. But the prime minister also drew a "red-line" that he says Armenia will never cross.

    "There is such a line, and this line is the right to self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. And at all times, Armenia was ready for such a compromise. And the most famous initiative is the Kazan initiative, when Armenia was ready for a specific compromise. But Azerbaijan refused to sign these agreements because Azerbaijan did not want and does not want to accept the right to self-determination of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. And the right to self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh is for us a 'red line' we cannot step over", Pashinyan says.

    The conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over Nagorno-Karabakh first erupted in 1988, when ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region accused Baku of discrimination and attempted to break off from the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic and join the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. Baku managed to prevent the separation and in 1991 formally abolished Karabakh’s autonomous status.

    The dispute re-emerged in 1992, when the two sides waged a brutal, full-scale war for control for two years, with the conflict leaving tens of thousands of troops and civilians dead as well as resulting in the displacement of more than 1.1 million Armenians and Azerbaijanis. As a result, most of the Nagorno-Karabakh region broke away from Baku's control, but Armenia, which supported Stepanakert in the conflict, stopped short of recognising its independence.

    Over the following decades, Azerbaijan repeatedly expressed its intention to regain the lost territory. Armenia, in turn, suggested that ethnic Armenians would be cleansed if this happened. The ceasefire, which had lasted virtually without major violations since 1994, was broken on 27 September, with both Baku and Yerevan accusing each other of sparking a new round of military hostilities.

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    Tags:
    interview, hostilities, Armenian genocide, Turkey, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan
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