In an exclusive interview given to The European Post, The Telegraph, Foreign Policy, Tageblatt and Il Giornale, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Vovayi Pashinyan spoke about the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which erupted on Sept. 27 over the territory of Nagorno Karabakh. He accused Turkey of having initiated the war by giving military equipment to Azerbaijan and by sending jihadists to fight. He also underlined that there is a non-conventional war in Europe with people being beheaded in the streets saying the Western community has failed to assess Turkey’s conduct appropriately and in a not so distant future, they should expect Turkey near Vienna. He ruled out any diplomatic solution at this moment and called on Russian peacemakers to intervene in the conflict if the Azerbaijani government would also agree to it.
Q: The war in Nagorno Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan started one month ago. At what point are we now with this war?
A: We need to acknowledge that the main initiator of this war was Turkey which transported mercenaries and terrorists from Syria to Azerbaijan and transferred some part of its armed forces to Azerbaijan, including military equipment as well as some armed groups from Pakistan. The objective was a blitzkrieg to take Nagorno Karabakh under control. According to their calculations that war was supposed to last maximum a week to ten days but Nagorno Karabakh stands firm and continues to fight and will continue to fight. Turkey has come here not so much for assisting Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh but for continuing its imperialistic policy. What is happening here is the continuation of the policy that Turkey is carrying out in the Mediterranean Sea against Greece and Cyprus and in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq. In the South Caucasus, Armenians are the last obstacle on Turkey’s path of continued imperialistic policies towards the Northeast and the Southeast. The Western community has failed to assess Turkey’s conduct appropriately and in a not so distant future, they should expect Turkey near Vienna.
Q: What can you realistically expect from the EU, knowing that some EU countries are blocking sanctions against Turkey on other subjects?
A: We try to invest our hope in ourselves and in the countries which have alliance of commitments with Armenia. The security of Yerevan, Armenia and the Armenian people, and our security is up to us. The EU’s security is not a part of my job but later, they should not accuse us of not having warned them. In recent years, if you really see what’s been happening in Europe…this war started in Europe earlier! And it’s going on every day. If artillery is not being used, it does not mean that that war hasn’t started. A war is currently happening in Europe.
Q: What war do you mean that is happening now in Europe?
A: You should look at what happened in France. You should look at the tone with which the President of Turkey is addressing French President Macron. Could you ever conceive any country’s president or any country’s official representative, possibly saying those things and in that tone about the president of France and about France? Who could have conceived that 15 years ago, even in the years of the Cold War? I don’t know of a case where any leader of the Soviet Union ever saying about France or any other European country’s leaders such things using that language. What is it if not a war? Now, it may be that you want or you don’t want to notice that war – the longer you choose not to notice that war the more it will grow noticeable for you. People are being beheaded in the streets of Europe today. If somebody personally did not get beheaded, it doesn’t mean that this is not going to happen again.
Q: You recently said there is no diplomatic solution at this moment. Where are we now?
A: How is it possible to speak about a diplomatic solution when the ceasefire continues to be broken?
If the diplomatic agreement is not put in place, how serious would it be to hope to implement under such circumstances, a diplomatic solution?
Q: This war has reached a new level of aggression since you got into power – is there anything you could have done to prevent that?
A: The situation really has not changed since 2011. The problem is that this issue can be solved through mutual concessions. But we can’t see endless concessions from one side (Armenia) and the other side (Azerbajian) not moving at all. Simply because the other side has more money to buy more weapons. And I could answer your question this way. I could have conceded the interest of Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia altogether and not defended those interests. But would that have prevented the war? Under this logic, no. Because at the minimum point of concessions Azerbaijan would have demanded more. I recently drew a parallel with the Munich Agreement and our situation before the start of World War II. Countries in Europe were thinking that when they conceded Czechoslovakia to Hitler they would have satisfied his appetite and the war would not take place. What happened as a result? Hitler swallowed Czechoslovakia. And we are not going to concede Czechoslovakia to anyone.
Q: Are you going to ask Moscow to intervene? If so, would that be on a humanitarian level or military level?
A: Moscow is Armenia’s strategic partner. I am in favour of the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone. But the problem is that deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone needs to be acceptable to all sides of the conflict. For Armenia and Karbach, it is acceptable, and it can happen if Azerbaijan also agrees to it. Any peacekeeper can be deployed only with the agreement of both sides or any sides. Moscow has also said that in case of an imminent threat to Armenia’s territorial integrity, they will honour their commitments, including military ones.
Q: Does the bombing of civilians in Ganja by Nagorno Karabakh forces undermine Armenia’s position as just defending its people? Don’t you think that responding to this bombing by shelling civilian areas does not undermine your position towards the international community?
A: No. Because the question is why was Ganja (city under Azerbaijani control) bombed? Or why was Stepanakert (capital of Nagorno Karabakh) bombed for 10 days continuously or actually longer? The Defence army of Nagorno Karabakh had legitimate military targets in Ganja and those were the ones that were hit. It may be that together with the military targets, civilian infrastructures were also hit. But in the Shushi’s church (church shelled by the Azerbaijani forces) there is no military target.
Q: What would be your message to the world?
A: Nagorno Karabakh has become essentially the frontline of the war against terror. Nagorno Karabakh inside Azerbaijan will mean ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Armenians. Why do you think they are shelling Stepanakert? For one simple reason, so that the people give up on the idea of living there. It’s a very important formula of ethnic cleansing and genocide.