Caucasus Reality 8 november — 12:00

Former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan: 'Pashinyan makes conflicting statements on Karabakh' (Exclusive)

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BY ZAUR RASULZADEH, POLITICS SECTION

As soon as the possibility of the slightest advances arises in the settlement of the Karabakh problem, Armenia immediately puts forward some provocative thesis, completely destroying a barely outlined agreement.

This time too, following the statement 'Karabakh is Armenia,' Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan brought to light the long-standing idea of a referendum that supposedly can alone determine the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

When a solution acceptable to the Armenian people is formulated in the negotiation process on Karabakh, nationwide discussions will be held, decisions must be adopted in a national format, Pashinyan said.

At the same time, the Armenian leader continues to insist on some acceptable solution for all - the Armenian, Karabakh and Azerbaijani peoples - without naming anything (except a referendum!) that would contribute to this. 'If this (acceptable - Ed) option is found, then it will be presented to the people and put up for public discussion,' he promises.

So what kind of a referendum does Pashinyan mean and where is he going to hold it: in Armenia or in Karabakh? In both places it will be contrary to international legal norms, because Nagorno-Karabakh is located outside the borders of Armenia, but within the borders of Azerbaijan, and any official action there can be considered legal only with the consent of Baku. And consent can be obtained if the occupying Armenian troops leave Karabakh and the expelled Azerbaijani population is returned there. That is, a referendum can take place with the participation of both ethnic communities, otherwise what kind of plebiscite is this.

So, the baseless statements and plans of Pashinyan are not very clear even to his entourage, not to mention ordinary people.

Matthew Bryza

The statements by the head of the Armenian government surprised former US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza too, a person familiar with the problem firsthand. As he told Azeri Daily, the co-chairs never considered the issue of a referendum in Armenia.

'Yes, we discussed the referendum in Karabakh with the participation of the entire population of the region, but by no means separately in Armenia. This was not on our agenda. If Pashinyan declares a referendum in Armenia, then Azerbaijan has the same right. In general, all his statements regarding the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict are made under the pressure of the Karabakh clan, that's why they are so contradictory,' Bryza is convinced.

Without rejecting it completely, Russian political scientist, leading researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Krylov, at the same time considers the idea of Pashinyan ineffective. 'The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a very complex conflict, and you cannot change the situation here by referendum alone,' he said in an interview with Armenian media.

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