The Armenian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Varuzhan Nersesyan, published an article in the popular publications The Telegraph and The Economist, in which he cited the atrocities committed by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces against the Armenian military personnel presented by the Scottish MP in the House of Commons.
In his op-ed, the Ambassador recalls that on 22 September, Chris Low, an MP for the Scottish National Party, speaking in the House of Commons, presented a chilling account of an elderly man decapitated with a knife and a female soldier who was brutally murdered and tortured. The victims he described were Armenians killed during Azerbaijan’s unprovoked military aggression, during which hundreds of people died. Critical infrastructure, settlements, schools and hospitals deep within Armenia have come under fire. More evidence of Azerbaijani atrocities has surfaced, including videos of the extrajudicial killing of Armenian soldiers. These actions echo the horrific actions of militants in Syria, and the wave of international condemnation this time was swift and unequivocal, leading to calls for war crimes to be investigated.
And yet, despite all of the above, Azerbaijan is talking about peace, but what kind of peace do they aspire to, the ambassador asks?
Nersesyan recalls that in 2021 Azerbaijan seized 42 sq. km of Armenian sovereign territory, and after the attack in September 2022, this figure almost tripled. The autocratic Azerbaijani ruler praised the occupation of new lands and repeated his words that “no one and nothing could stop him” in achieving his ambitions. Two years after the cessation of hostilities in Artsakh, Azerbaijan is still holding dozens of Armenian prisoners of war. The Azerbaijani government has announced that it intends to erase the Armenian inscriptions on religious monuments in the territories occupied during the 2020 war.
The Armenian Ambassador notes that the events in Ukraine were an occasion for Azerbaijan, but also a lesson that everyone should learn. Since the end of the war in 2020, the Armenian government has adopted a “peace agenda” and committed to ushering in an era of peaceful development in the South Caucasus. In his speech to the UN General Assembly last month, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made it clear that the mutual recognition of the international borders of each nation would mean that the parties could sign a peace treaty, but he also warned that without this recognition, it would be “illusory”. agreement”, according to which Azerbaijan can use the border delimitation process for new territorial claims and occupation. In addition, the Prime Minister confirmed that the communication routes of Armenia will be open for Azerbaijan to access the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, but this road will not constitute an extraterritorial corridor, “as a pretext for new aggression against Armenia.”
Nersesyan is also convinced that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict cannot be resolved by force. With the existing international mechanisms, Azerbaijan should enter into direct negotiations with the authorities in order to solve problems related to its final status, security and human rights of the people of the republic.
At the same time, the Ambassador sees room for cautious optimism. In early October, as part of the EU and French mediation, Prime Minister Pashinyan met Azerbaijani President Aliyev in Prague, where it was decided that an EU monitoring mission would be deployed to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border at the suggestion of the Armenian government.
The Ambassador also touched upon the visit of Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Yerevan, who stated that “America is committed to Armenia’s security, democracy, and we stand with Armenia in difficult times.” She also mentioned President Biden’s invitation to Armenia to take part in the first Democracy Summit. As he pointed out, “Democracy is not accidental. We must protect her.”
Nersesyan stressed that Armenia is ready for a compromise and opens the way for real and lasting peace between neighboring countries. However, its territorial integrity cannot be negotiated, and the Azerbaijani forces must withdraw from the regions that they have been occupying since May 12, 2021. A war in Ukraine and an energy crisis will not be enough to give Azerbaijan cover for further aggression. Only constructive interaction, political will and mutual compromises will lead to a just peace for both countries, the RA Ambassador believes.