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Armenian Leader Blames Baku For Lack Of Results At Nagorno-Karabakh Talks

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks to RFE/RL in Yerevan on July 17.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has blamed Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for the lack of "concrete results" in negotiations aimed at resolving the decades-long dispute between their countries over Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinian made the remarks in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Armenian Service on July 17.

"When I was elected prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, I announced from the podium that any possible solution of the Karabakh issue should be acceptable for the people of Armenia, for the people of Karabakh, and for the people of Azerbaijan," Pashinian told RFE/RL.

"This was, in a way, an unprecedented announcement, in the reality we live in, because no Armenian leader said that the solution should be acceptable for the Azerbaijani people too," Pashinian said, describing his remarks as "a very serious basis for the progress of the negotiation process."

"And why is there no progress? The reason is clear -- because the Azerbaijani president refuses to say the same sentence," Pashinian told RFE/RL.

"As long as this sentence remains unheard, it means that the negotiations are ineffective," Pashinian said.

"Someone thinks that the settlement of the Karabakh issue can be acceptable for the Azerbaijani people, but not acceptable for the people of Karabakh and the people of Armenia," Pashinian said. "If someone thinks so, he does not recognize the people of Karabakh or the people of Armenia."

Nagorno-Karabakh, which is populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Since 1994, it has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces that Baku says include troops supplied by Armenia. The breakaway region's claim to independence has not been recognized by any country.

Internationally mediated negotiations involving the OSCE's Minsk Group have helped forge a cease-fire in the region, which is not always honored.

But the negotiations have failed to produce a lasting settlement of the conflict.

Baku has criticized Pashinian over his previous statements on the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In September, Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry said Pashinian's remarks at a meeting with ethnic Armenian businessmen in Moscow damaged efforts to resolve the decades-old dispute over the region.

Pashinian had said that he saw Nagorno-Karabakh as "part of Armenia" in the future.

"The path toward this status may consist of more steps than one. It may consist of two or three steps, but our vision of the future is definitely this. And there can be no doubt about that," Pashinian said on September 8.

"We would like to reiterate that Armenia and its leadership bear all responsibility for escalation of [the] situation with such incendiary statements," Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmat Haciyev said.

Based on an interview and reporting by RFE/RL's Armenian Service
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