Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan denounced Russian peacekeepers for not preventing the fall of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and seemingly accused Russia of using Armenia’s conflict with Azerbaijan to try to topple him in a speech delivered at the European Parliament on Tuesday.
Pashinyan addressed the European Parliament’s legislative body amid Yerevan’s deepening rift with Moscow, its longtime ally locked in a geopolitical standoff with the West.
“Democracy in Armenia … continues to receive strong blows that follow an almost exactly repeated scenario: foreign aggression, then the inaction of Armenia’s security allies, then attempts to use the war or the humanitarian situation or external security threats to subvert Armenia’s democracy and sovereignty by inciting internal instability with hybrid techniques directed by external forces,” he said.
Pashinyan pointed to Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military offensive in Karabakh which caused a mass exodus of the region’s ethnic Armenian population and sparked renewed anti-government protests in Yerevan.
“As hundreds of thousands of Armenians were fleeing from Nagorno-Karabakh to the Republic of Armenia, our security allies not only did not help us but also made public calls for regime change in Armenia,” he said. “But the people of Armenia united for their own independence, sovereignty, democracy, and another conspiracy against our state failed.”
Pashinyan already implicitly accused Moscow of fomenting the angry street protests against his rule in the immediate aftermath of the Azerbaijani assault. Their organizers and participants blamed him for Baku’s takeover of Karabakh, saying that he precipitated it with his recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over the region.
Pashinyan again sought to shift the blame to Moscow, saying that the Karabakh Armenians fled their homeland due to the “inaction of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.” President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have defended the peacekeepers.
The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Pashinyan late last month of seeking to ruin Russian-Armenian relations and reorient his country towards the West. Earlier in September, it deplored “a series of unfriendly steps” taken by Yerevan.
Moscow has also been critical of Western efforts to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal, saying that their main purpose is to drive Russia out of the South Caucasus. Putin offered last week to host fresh talks between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Pashinyan signaled on Tuesday that he still prefers the Western mediation and hopes it will result in an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty soon. He noted that he and Aliyev are due to meet in Brussels together with EU head Charles Michel later this year.
Pashinyan further stated that he wants to deepen Armenia’s ties with the EU “as much as the European Union finds it possible.”