Pashinyan’s Party Refuses To Support Artsakh Self-Determination in Parliament

Pashinyan’s Party Refuses To Support Artsakh Self-Determination in Parliament

The Armenian parliament rejected on Tuesday an opposition proposal to speak out against Azerbaijani control over Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and to voice support for the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination.

The main opposition Hayastan alliance drafted a relevant parliamentary statement on the 100th day of Azerbaijan’s continuing blockade of the Lachin corridor. The document says Baku’s actions show that Karabakh cannot be a part of Azerbaijan and that self-determination of its ethnic Armenian population is the only way to ensure its security.

The parliamentary majority representing the ruling Civil Contract party refused to even debate the opposition initiative during an ongoing session of the National Assembly. According to Artsvik Minasian, a senior Hayastan lawmaker, its leaders objected to the draft statement’s references to “the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” and self-determination.

The rebuff sparked bitter recriminations and insults between pro-government and opposition deputies.

Hayastan’s Andranik Tevanian accused the ruling party of breaking its 2021 election campaign pledge to strive for Karabakh’s self-determination in the international arena.

“Dear compatriots, they have fooled you because in their pre-election program they pledged to seek the realization of Artsakh’s right to self-determination,” Tevanian charged, appealing to voters.

Civil Contract’s parliamentary leader, Hayk Konjorian, responded by alleging that Hayastan’s top leader, former President Robert Kocharian, himself had been ready to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.

The pro-government majority already blocked in December a similar resolution put forward by Hayastan and the second parliamentary opposition force, Pativ Unem.

Successive Armenian governments had for decades championed the Karabakh Armenians’ right to determine the disputed region’s status. But a year ago, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and other senior Armenian officials stopped making references to the principle of self-determination it in their public statements.

Since then they have spoken instead of the need to ensure “the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh,” fueling opposition allegations that Yerevan is now ready to agree to Azerbaijani control over the Armenian-populated region. Pashinyan underlined that policy change during a news conference held on March 14.

On March 13, Karabakh’s leading political groups issued a joint statement demanding that Yerevan refrain from calling into question “the Artsakh people’s right to self-determination.” They said Pashinyan’s administration must comply with a 1992 parliamentary act that bans Armenia’s government from signing any document recognizing Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan stated in January that the international community has always regarded Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan. The claim was denounced by the Armenian opposition and Karabakh’s leadership.

Self-determination was one of the basic principles behind Karabakh peace plans jointly drafted by the United States, Russia and France prior to the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war. The opposition resolution blocked by Pashinyan’s party emphasized this fact.