British radio host catches Yerevan lying on Karabakh
In a new episode of the BBC's news programme HARDtalk, its host Stephen Sackur caught Armenia’s foreign minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan lying, when he spoke about Armenia's approaches to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In particular, Mnatsakanyan tried to convince BBC audience that Yerevan seeks to achieve peace in the region. Stephen Sackur asked him: "You told me you want peace - explain to me then why in August, just a few months ago, the Prime Minister [Nikol Pashinyan] made a very high-profile speech in which he declared in no uncertain terms that 'Karabakh is Armenia - period.' And he wants peace?"
The Armenian Foreign Minister tried to slip away from the question, saying that Nikol Pashinyan had in mind the necessity of accepting the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for Armenia to the same extent as for Azerbaijan and the occupied Azerbaijani territories. "We are waiting from Azerbaijan a signal, a message which refers to our interests, to our concerns, which refers to the concerns of security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh," he said.
Sackur brought the conversation back on track, noting that the statement 'Karabakh is Armenia - period' is contrary to international law, no matter what was Pashinyan's idea behind these words. "When the Prime Minister declares 'Karabakh is Armenia - period', when he knows that flies in the face of international law, the position of the UN and all of the independent international agencies, I'm struggling to see how that a move or gesture toward peace," the BBC radio host admitted.
"Particularly, when he [Nikol Pashinyan] also followed up by leading the crowd during that one particular speech with chants of unification, nationalist slogans that have been heard in the 80-90s during the war with Azerbaijan, and you're telling me that the prime minister wants peace? " he asked again.
After that, Mnatsakanyan tried to explain Pashinyan's words from the pan-Armenian point of view, while confessing to the expansionist plans of Yerevan. "The pan-Armenian agenda concerns Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia is pursuing the development agenda, agenda of consolidation, and it does not leave out the people of Nagorno-Karabakh - that's the pan-Armenian agenda, we're a nation which is within the territory of the Republic of Armenia, but a nation of a global nature. Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory in which our compatriots live," he said, as if he had forgotten about the policy of representing the puppet regime in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan as separate from the Armenian people.
Then Stephen Sackur drew the attention of his guest that even Armenia's main ally, Russia, condemned Pashinyan for these words. "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after this rather extraordinary statement by your Prime Minister that 'Karabakh is Armenia' is the same as if the Prime Minister of Albania said from Tirana that 'Kosovo is Albania'. Even the Russians are now saying that your position is unacceptable," he said.
Mnatsakanyan did not answer this remark either, repeating again about they wait for a signal from Azerbaijan. In response, the BBC radio host emphasized that Armenia should also give any signals of its readiness for compromises, and the Armenian minister ignored him again, saying only "we insist that compromise is a way out; He [Nikol Pashinyan] has been referring to the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem through compromise." Not a word was said about compromises on the Armenian side.
Then Stephen Sackur recalled the Armenian army's crimes. "It seems to me it needs imagination to get out of a stalemate. Are you prepared to be imaginative in the spirit of reconciliation to have knowledge that over the last 20 years and more the Armenian military has been responsible for very serious abuses. The UN has concluded that. The European Court of Human Rights has concluded that. Independent groups like Amnesty International have talked about the abuses of your armed forces. If you want to change the dynamic with this new government is ready to admit that yes, we have been responsible for serious abuses in the past?" he asked.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan did not answer this question either, saying without any connection that "Armenia is the only guarantee of security." When the host asked to answer the question properly, the minister repeated: "We are the only guarantors of security, what we have is the security arrangement for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, we have been responsible for this."
The host interrupted this monologue and tried to ask the same question a little differently. "I'll try one more time. The Human Rights Watch report into the conflict in 1995. It says that the Armenian forces with the support of the Republic of Armenia were responsible for the majority of abuses during the period of war. In 2017, the ECHR delivered 12 judgments concerning Armenia, 11 found the country in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. So all I asking now: are you prepared to say that in the past mistakes were made, abuses happened?" Stephen Sackur asked.
When Zohrab Mnatsakanyan once again tried to evade the answer saying that "that is part of moving forward, that is true, but at the moment we also have to figure out the way in which we can address out biggest priority - the security of the people," the host asked the question as directly as possible: "You do now express regret for something your military did in the past?"
This time, instead of answering, the Armenian Foreign Minister start accusing Azerbaijan of ethnic crimes during the Karabakh war, and also tried to present the April battles for Karabakh in 2016 as an attack by the Azerbaijani army. "Referring to your specific question, yes, I accept that we need to go forward all together, all of us, but it takes every party to engage in a constructive way. This is why the Prime Minister were saying a solution that is acceptable to all. And we are waiting for a message from Azerbaijan so that we have foundation in our move forward," he again attributed all responsibility for the conflict to the Azerbaijani side.
Since it became clear that Mnatsakanyan would not speak any other words and did not intend to honestly answer the questions asked, Stephen Sackur recalled only numerous violations of the ceasefire by the Armenian side, asking the minister if the conflict would enter a new stage of exacerbation.
And here Zohrab Mnatsakanyan revealed. "This is what we are absolutely focused on," he said, without noticing at first how negative this answer was. Then the minister tried to correct the situation and said that reducing the number of violations is part of the policy of new Armenian government. "We are focused on that, that is one of our priorities," the Armenian Foreign Minister concluded.