Tehran, IRNA – The proclamation of independence by the Nagorno-Karabakh region from the Republic of Azerbaijan, following a devastating war from February 1988 to March 1994, was never accepted by the international community, the United Nations, and even Armenia itself.
Although it was evident from the beginning of the Karabakh war that attaining independence for the Armenian region of Karabakh within the Republic of Azerbaijan was unlikely, successive Armenian governments persisted in refusing to acknowledge this reality.
They pursued a nationalist agenda and advocated for conflict instead.
In the Caucasus, this led to the expulsion and killings of Muslim Azeris from Karabakh, the occupation and destruction of seven cities in the Republic of Azerbaijan by Armenia, and the displacement of nearly one million Shias from the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The magnitude of this disaster was so extensive that Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, highlighted the oppression faced by Muslims in various parts of the world.
In a speech in Tabriz on 05/05/1372, referring to the oppression imposed on Muslims in different parts of the world, he said: “The government of Armenia and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are oppressing the Muslims of this region, and we are concerned about the recent actions of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh supported by the Armenian government, we condemn it and we expect that the Armenians inside our country will also condemn the behavior of the Armenians of that region.”
In another message to the Hajj Congress on 13/03/1371, Ayatollah Khamenei criticized the lack of serious action by governments in the Caucasus to prevent the killing of Muslims in Karabakh, despite having the means to apply pressure.
He highlighted their indifference towards the fate of the newly independent nation of the Caucasus.
In a separate message to the Hajj Congress on 02/25/1373, the Leader described the atrocities against Muslims, emphasizing the harsh conditions endured by the Muslims of Karabakh.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resulted in the severance of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Turkey with Armenia, border closures, and increased insecurity and instability in the South Caucasus. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia bore heavy costs due to this conflict.
Armenia faced severe international criticism and economic sanctions, restricting its geographical mobility and diverting it from the path of development and causing significant economic hardships for its people.
For more than twenty years, Armenia has violated the territorial integrity of the neighboring country, drawing server criticism from the international community and the United Nations Security Council, and due to facing economic sanctions and being geographically restricted, it was moved away from the development path and its people faced serious economic problems.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict also led to the Zionist regime becoming the primary arms supplier to the Republic of Azerbaijan, further escalating tensions and conflicts. The genocide of Muslims in the Khojaly region by Armenia and the massacres of Armenians in Sumqait, Ganja, and Maraqat by Azerbaijan were among the other tragic outcomes of the declaration of independence of Karabakh.
The Minsk Group, headed by the United States, France and Russia the three permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, did not do anything for the return of Karabakh to the Republic of Azerbaijan and the establishment of a permanent and inclusive peace due to their bias towards Armenia.
Also, the leaders of Baku did not do anything because of their trust in the Misk group and prolonged the life of this conflict.
With the inauguration of Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister on May 8, 2018 and his stance on the Karabakh conflict, it became clear that he does not seek to continue the policies of the previous presidents of Armenia and is serious about ending this regional problem.
Pashinyan is the editor of the best-selling newspaper Armenia “Haikakan Zamanak” declared the main priority of its plans to be the economic development of Armenia and saving the people of this country from poverty and said that to achieve this goal, the Karabakh conflict must end.
Pashinyan’s government negotiated with the authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan more than other Armenian governments, and with the slogan “Peace, interaction and dialogue” they held numerous talks with Azeri officials.
The turning points of which were Pashinyan’s meetings with Ilham Aliyev, who were in Tajikistan, St. Petersburg, Davos and Munich.
In a meeting with the President of Azerbaijan on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on February 17, 2020, Pashinyan said: “Any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue must be acceptable to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. In this revolutionary development, I am the first leader of Armenia to say that any solution to the Kara issue should be acceptable to the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The leader of the Republic of Azerbaijan must also accept in a revolutionary change that any solution to the Karabakh issue must be acceptable to all parties.”
At this point, Mr. Pashinyan implicitly accepted Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh by emphasizing the solution accepted by the people of Azerbaijan.
He considered the non-resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be the result of the inaction of the past presidents of Armenia, and clearly stated that part of the reason for the deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace negotiations and the lack of responsibility for the legal status of this was due to the inefficiency and wrong policies of the governments of Robert Kocharian and Serge Sargsyan.
In another important development after the 44-day war, the Pashinyan government accepted the tripartite ceasefire agreement with the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation and agreed to lift the occupation and liberate seven cities of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In the continuation of the negotiations, after reaching an agreement with Ilham Aliyev in Prague, Pashinyan explicitly announced that: “Yervan is ready to recognize the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan with an area of 86,600 square kilometers, which includes Nagorno-Karabakh. The President of Azerbaijan and I reached an agreement, or rather we reached an understanding, that Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize each other’s territorial integrity. The territory of Armenia is 29,800 square kilometers and the territory of Azerbaijan is 86,600 square kilometers.”
Subsequently, Aliyev stressed on the recognition of the territorial integrity of Armenia at different times, and therefore the mutual recognition of the territorial integrity of the two countries, meaning the exercise of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty in Karabagh and Lachin Pass and the exercise of Armenia’s sovereignty in Sivnik Province and the so-called Zangzor Pass.
Pashinyan’s wise decision to recognize the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan not only ended a pointless and destructive war in the Caucasus, but with the recognition of the territorial integrity of Armenia by Azerbaijan, the possibility of a war in Sivnik Province was also averted.
Although today, some Armenian people are against the decision of their prime minister, but another group of people, especially the elites, are happy with Pashinyan’s courage and tact in making the right decision that can put Armenia on the path of peace and development.
As evident since 1991, the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh from the Republic of Azerbaijan seemed unattainable. If the former leaders of Armenia had prioritized securing the national interests of their country over emphasizing ethnicity, this conflict could have been resolved years ago.
Establishing a just and stable peace in the Caucasus, maintaining the territorial integrity of both Azerbaijan and Armenia, respecting international borders, and ensuring the security of the Armenians of Karabakh have contributed to creating security and stability in the region. This provides a basis for economic interactions. The Caucasus should abandon historical claims against other countries and leave such matters to historians.