Pashinyan Questions Armenia’s Legal Right to Exist

Pashinyan Questions Armenia’s Legal Right to Exist

Opposition leaders and other critics of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have expressed shock at his claim that Armenia needs a peace treaty with Azerbaijan in order to legalize its borders and very existence as a sovereign state.

Pashinyan made the claim on Wednesday as he defended his plans to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) through the treaty envisaging mutual recognition by the two South Caucasus states of each other’s territorial integrity. He likened it to a property ownership certificate.

“Throughout its millennia-long existence Armenia has never had an ownership certificate,” he declared. “If we manage to do what we want to do, then for the first time in our history we will get an ownership certificate and will be not only a de facto but also a de jure owner [of modern-day Armenian territory.] We all … want to overcome our status of tenants.”

“His primitiveness and illiteracy is putting Armenia in danger,” charged Levon Zurabian, the deputy chairman of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress party.

Zurabian at the same time said, “I don’t think that Pashinyan’s statements mean anything at all because he himself doesn’t understand what he is talking about.”

Hayk Mamijanian, a senior lawmaker from the opposition Pativ Unem bloc, was more concerned about consequences of Pashinyan’s “lunacy.”

“I’m sure that Pashinyan deliberately enabled neighboring countries hostile to us to substantiate their future aggression with Pashinyan’s statement made yesterday,” Mamijanian told reporters on Thursday.

Armenia – Former Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts is interviewed by RFE/RL, May 25, 2023.

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts also deplored Pashinyan’s “shameful” statement, saying that the prime minister questioned the legality of Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity despite the fact that Yerevan has diplomatic relations with virtually all countries of the world.

“It is probably the first time in history that a head of state has made such characterizations of his own state and his own people,” Adonts told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service in an interview.

“We have been a full-fledged member of the United States since declaring independence in 1991. You can’t join the UN without an ‘ownership certificate,’” he said.

The former diplomat also brushed aside Pashinyan’s claim that “there are several countries in the world that think they can tell us to pack our belongings and get out of here any time they want.” He argued that even Azerbaijan did not have any territorial claims to Armenia before its victory in the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Adonts and two other deputy foreign ministers of Armenia resigned in 2021 in protest against Pashinyan’s policy towards Azerbaijan.