Artsakh Rules Out Return To Azeri Control

Artsakh Rules Out Return To Azeri Control

Artsakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership and population will never agree to live under Azerbaijani rule, a senior official in Stepanakert reiterated on Thursday.

By Artak Khulian,

“This is the red line which we will never cross regardless of anything,” Davit Babayan, the Karabakh foreign minister, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Whatever promises Azerbaijan could give us, those promises won’t be serious, they won’t be fulfilled.”

“For us, there is no chance of survival within Azerbaijan,” he said. “We would either be turned into a concentration camp or there would be a genocide and ethnic cleansing of Armenians.”

Therefore, the Karabakh Armenians will not even discuss any status of their region within Azerbaijan, added Babayan.

The remarks came as Armenia and Azerbaijan geared up for talks on a “peace treaty” meant to end their border disputes and the conflict over Karabakh. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Thursday that Yerevan is ready to formally recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity through such a deal.

Other Armenian officials have made similar statements of late, prompting serious concern from opposition leaders and other government critics. The latter maintain that Pashinian’s government is ready to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.

Pashinian’s statement followed deadly fighting in Karabakh sparked by an Azerbaijani incursion into a village in Karabakh’s east. Azerbaijani forces fired at other Karabakh villages and blocked supplies of natural gas to the territory in early March.

The authorities in both Yerevan and Stepanakert say these actions are part of Baku’s efforts to bully the Karabakh Armenians and cause them to emigrate.

Babayan said that the Karabakh leadership is making “intensive” efforts to stabilize and improve the security situation with the help of Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Karabakh.

“We must stay strong, make the right geopolitical choices and understand that we have no right to make mistakes at this historic moment,” he said.

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