Armenian Leader Open to Recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh as Part of Azerbaijan, with Safeguards for Ethnic Armenians

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In a significant development, Armenian leader Nikol Pashinyan expressed his nation’s willingness to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave as a part of Azerbaijan. However, he emphasized the importance of guaranteeing the rights of ethnic Armenians residing in the region. Pashinyan acknowledged the inclusion of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan’s territory, covering an area of 86,600 square kilometers. He further added that if both sides understood each other correctly, Armenia would recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity within the specified limits, while Azerbaijan would recognize Armenia’s territorial integrity spanning 29,800 square kilometers.

This statement by Pashinyan comes amidst growing concerns and protests from opposition parties within Armenia, who fear that the Nagorno-Karabakh region might be handed over to Azerbaijan. Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian even demanded Pashinyan’s resignation, leading to massive anti-government protests. The opposition views Pashinyan as a traitor who has misled the people and lacks popular support for such actions. On the other hand, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed his belief that a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia was inevitable. He emphasized the need for the peace treaty to adhere to international norms and principles.

The recent meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev, mediated by the European Union, aimed to initiate preparatory work for peace negotiations. The meeting was prompted by a recent escalation in the Karabakh region, resulting in the death of three separatist troops. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh originated in 1991 when ethnic Armenian separatists declared independence from Azerbaijan following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The ensuing hostilities claimed approximately 30,000 lives. As both leaders cautiously navigate the path toward peace, the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan is on the table, but ensuring the rights and protection of the local ethnic Armenian population remains a priority for Armenia.

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