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Tuesday, 17 October 2023 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

5. Formal sitting - Address by Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia
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  President. – Dear colleagues, today we have Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, with us. Prime Minister, dear Nikol, welcome to the European Parliament. We are in the context of the events of 19 September in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In our last plenary, we voted on a resolution that deplored the attack on Nagorno-Karabakh and called for the respect of Armenians’ rights and security. Our focus now must be on honest and fair talks to resume. Prime Minister, since then, your country, your people, have welcomed, housed and fed over 100 000 refugees. It is a testament to your country’s commitment. Europe will continue to support Armenia’s efforts in dealing with the influx of people from Nagorno-Karabakh. Many Member States have also donated much-needed shelter, equipment, food and medical supplies to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Prime Minister, let me also assure you of our support to your country’s democratic reforms, the strengthening of our bilateral relations and stronger cooperation with the European Union, active participation of the international community, as well as international assurances for Armenians who continue to live in Nagorno-Karabakh, can help achieve peace and reconciliation.

We remain committed to all efforts directed towards the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on mutual recognition of sovereignty, inviolability of borders and territorial integrity. Dear Prime Minister, dear Nikol, let me assure you that Armenia remains a vital partner for us in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood. The EU stands ready to further support the democratically elected authorities of Armenia, the resilience, security and continuation of democratic reforms in the country.

Prime Minister, the floor is yours.


  Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. – Madam President, thank you very much. I will speak in Armenian.

(The following is a transcription of the original speech in Armenian, based on the English interpretation)

Esteemed President of the European Parliament, dear Members of Parliament, dear guests, it’s a great honour for me to speak from this high rostrum and I’m grateful for this opportunity.

Our government and the people of the Republic of Armenia know the European Parliament as an entity which at all times of challenges faced by the Republic of Armenia and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh has been vocal and has been vocal in the language of the truth. I thank all of you for this, among other things, because there is power in the truth, and that power you generated each time has benefited us, too.

The common narrative these days is that democratic Armenia is experiencing dire challenges, and it is the truth. Another truth is that Armenia’s democracy is experiencing dire challenges. The greatest truth, nonetheless, is that democracy in Armenia is experiencing dire challenges. And not just Armenia’s democracy, but democracy overall. Because various events unfolding in Armenia and around the world are raising the following question: is democracy capable of providing peace, security, solidarity, prosperity and happiness?

But I have not come here to ask questions. I have come here to answer, and my answer is ‘yes’, unequivocally. Many say that Armenia today is suffering because of democracy. But I must underline my belief. With the largely inevitable challenges faced by Armenia in recent years, the Republic of Armenia would have simply become paralysed, lost her independence and sovereignty, had it not been democratic.

This is evidenced by the events of 2020 and 2021. After signing the trilateral ceasefire statement at the end of the 44-day war – when Armenia’s State institutions were targeted by attacks of extremist groups, when the public was divided and inflamed – democratically-formed institutions stood strong in their positions of defending statehood, whilst not breaching any principles of democracy.

The freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly were not restricted in Armenia in that difficult situation. There were no cases of disproportionate use of force and the rule of law was not undermined. And even though we continue to enjoy a majority in the parliament, in order to overcome the social-psychological crisis that was caused by the aftermath of the war, the ruling power – the Civil Contract Party – decided to call a snap parliamentary election. For that purpose, I stepped down from my position as Prime Minister and then, in accordance with the legal procedure, the parliament and the government were dissolved.

Two days after the de jure entry into force of the dissolution of the parliament on 12 May 2021, the Azerbaijani troops violated the border with Armenia at a border stretch of about 100 km. They invaded Armenia’s sovereign territory at depths of up to four kilometres. In this situation, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, considered to be Armenia’s security system, and countries that had security obligations bilaterally towards Armenia did nothing to help us. They left us all alone.

The purpose of this provocation ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election was to cause that election to fail and to paralyse Armenian statehood or, as a minimum, to install a puppet government. But in this environment, Armenia’s people were able to stand strong to defend Armenia’s independence, sovereignty and democracy. And we held a parliamentary election that was internationally recognised as free, democratic, transparent and competitive.

For the first time in the history of the Republic of Armenia, elections became a means for overcoming a domestic crisis, and not vice versa. This was the main difference between the Armenia that existed before the 2018 non-violent Velvet Revolution of the people and the one that came after the revolution. Before the revolution, elections would normally trigger internal crises due to the lack of public trust in the outcome. After the revolution, elections have helped to prevent or overcome crises because citizens now have not only a theoretical, but also a practical, opportunity to carry out decisions and to have these decisions respected.

After the 2018 non-violent Velvet Revolution of the people, no election in Armenia at any level and no election results have been rigged. Six years ago, people would have laughed at references to the right to form a government through elections. And now they would not understand what falsification or rigging of election results could mean. This is what has changed in Armenia in the last five years.

But democracy in Armenia has continued to suffer from heavy blows, which operate on an almost exactly repeatable formula. External aggression, followed by the inactivity of Armenia’s security allies, followed by attempts to capitalise on the war or the humanitarian situation or the external security threats to overthrow Armenia’s democracy and sovereignty, or attempts which are manifested in the form of incitement of domestic instability via hybrid technologies steered by external actors.

Since 2020, we’ve had several of these situations, the largest of which was Azerbaijan’s wholesale attack on Armenia on 13 December 2022, which resulted in the occupation of Armenia’s sovereign territories.

The latest and most tragic of such events unfolded quite recently, when Azerbaijan – in furtherance of its years-long policy of ethnic cleansing – unleashed a wholesale attack on Nagorno-Karabakh. When 100 000 Armenians were fleeing from Nagorno-Karabakh to the Republic of Armenia, our security allies were not only not helping us, but were publicly appealing for a change of power and overthrowing of the democratic government in Armenia.

But the people of the Republic of Armenia came together for our own independence, sovereignty and democracy. And yet another plot conspired against our state failed. The government and the people of the Republic of Armenia came together to host and provide shelter to over 100 000 Armenians that were victimised by the ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh.

We have done this honourably – to the extent that our international partners confess that they have never seen a situation in which a country would receive 100 000 refugees and would be able to accommodate all of them without setting up refugee camps or tent towns. We were able to do this thanks to Armenia’s people and democracy.


At times the people would not even wait for the government to do anything. They would provide essential supplies to the forcibly displaced and they would even provide temporary shelter. Many of them received these people in their homes.

Thanks to democracy, after the 2018 revolution all obstacles to doing business freely and all artificial monopolies were eliminated in Armenia. Government transparency and accountability have improved. There have been uncompromising, principled and institutional efforts against corruption. The rule of law has been achieved.

And with all of this – in spite of the tragedies and the threats – Armenia continues to enjoy strong economic growth. Since 2018, my country’s fiscal revenues have grown by about 70%. With decisions that have already been taken, we will be allocating around USD 100 million in support to those displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh. And we do need international support, including in the form of budget support.

Needless to say, we have created a mechanism for supporting the forcibly displaced. Under this mechanism, the resources allocated to them are transferred in non-cash form. Thus, the distribution of resources is transparent, verifiable and traceable. And the system will continue to operate in this manner.

And we’re grateful to our international partners, to the EU and to the Member States for having already made allocations or having continued to make allocations to cope with the humanitarian crisis caused by the forced displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Esteemed President of the European Parliament, honourable Members of Parliament, dear guests, it is extremely unfortunate that – in spite of hundreds of reports, the orders of the International Court of Justice, resolutions of the European Parliament, resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and resolutions of national parliaments, as well as the appeals of the executive government – we, the international community, have been unable to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian Government and the European Parliament have many times alerted to the threat of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian Government repeatedly invited the UN, the OSCE and the EU to send a fact-finding mission to the blockaded Lachin corridor or to Nagorno-Karabakh. However, none of them adopted such decisions. We initiated three UN Security Council discussions on this topic, but the discussions produced no practical results.

And now Nagorno-Karabakh has been cleansed of Armenians. With the inactivity of the peacekeeping mission of the Russian Federation, over 100 000 Armenians left their homes and their native land of Nagorno-Karabakh in a matter of one week. Another 20 000 had been forced out of Nagorno-Karabakh immediately after the 44-day war in 2020. Many others had been unable to return to Nagorno-Karabakh because of the illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor that had started in December 2022.

And now some are pretending not to understand why the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh left their homes en masse. Posing such a question is cynicism per se, because the answer is glaringly obvious. Azerbaijan had clearly and unequivocally demonstrated its decision to render life for Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh impossible.

From December 2022, during the illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh were deprived of natural gas, electricity, fuel, food, baby formula, medication, hygiene supplies as well as other essential supplies. Civilians performing agriculture works were targeted by Azerbaijan’s armed forces.

From December 2022, we made dozens of alerts about Azerbaijan’s plan to push people into hunger, to increase the military propaganda and psychological pressure, and then to open the Lachin corridor, thus forcing all Armenians to leave. We described this scenario in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August of 2023. We described it loudly and publicly, and I do not understand the surprised faces of certain international officials about the cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh of Armenians in September.

Yet I would like to thank the European Parliament for calling what happened in Nagorno-Karabakh by its name. This is important for the future protection of the rights of people deprived of their homeland.

Esteemed President, honourable Members of Parliament, dear attendees, in spite of all the wars and difficulties and crises, I have come to the European Parliament with the following key message: our region, the South Caucasus, is in need of peace, in need of a condition where all the countries of the region live with open borders, tied by active economic, political and cultural bonds, with experience and tradition of resolving all differences by diplomatic means and by dialogue.

I want to highlight: our vision of peace is not in any way opposed to the interests of our region, because our country can be peaceful if the region is in peace. And supporting the construction of peace is my core political undertaking.

Assuming such an undertaking is not easy given the long-standing conflict with Azerbaijan and the fact that there have been numerous casualties, missing persons, prisoners, suffering and despair. But is peace possible? And if so, how?

In early October, ahead of the Third European Political Community Summit in Granada, we had a major opportunity to achieve a breakthrough in the peace process, but unfortunately the President of Azerbaijan refused to attend the summit and to adopt a joint statement with the EU Council President, the President of France, the Chancellor of Germany and myself – a statement that would contain the principles of achieving peace and normalising relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, those principles and content were not elaborated in Granada.

As a result of the quadrilateral meeting in Prague on 6 October 2022, they were elaborated back then, and that meeting in Prague was attended by the French President, the EU Council President, the President of Azerbaijan and myself. These principles were fleshed out in 2023 during meetings between the EU Council President, the President of Azerbaijan and myself in Brussels, and there have been public statements about these principles.

The first principle is contained in the Granada quadrilateral statement in the following way. The French President, the EU Council President, the German Chancellor and myself ‘remain committed to all efforts directed towards the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, based on mutual recognition of sovereignty, inviolability of borders and territorial integrity of Armenia (29 800 km²) and Azerbaijan (86 600 km²), as mentioned in President Michel’s statements of 14 May and 15 July 2023. They called for the strict adherence to the principle of non-use of force and threat of use of force.’

As a result of the trilateral meeting held in Brussels on 14 May this year between the EU Council President, the President of Azerbaijan and myself, EU Council President Charles Michel published a statement that reads as follows: ‘The leaders’, meaning the President of Azerbaijan and myself, ‘confirm their unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration and the respective territorial integrity of Armenia (29 800 km²) and Azerbaijan (86 600 km²)’.

As a result of the 15 July meeting in Brussels between the EU Council President, the President of Azerbaijan and myself, another statement was published by Council President Michel, which reads as follows: ‘The Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders once again fully reconfirmed their respect for the other country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, based on the understanding that Armenia’s territory covers 29 800 km² and Azerbaijan’s 86 600 km²’.

Ladies and gentlemen, what you need to know in addition about this is the following. After these understandings, I made several public statements reconfirming that the Republic of Armenia recognises Azerbaijan’s 86 600 km² territorial integrity, but the Azerbaijan President has not reciprocated. He recently stated that he recognises Armenia’s territorial integrity, but he did not specify the 29 800 km², which has caused some analysts concern that he is intentionally leaving ambiguities for making territorial claims on Armenia.

The understanding to recognise territorial integrity with specific numbers was achieved for that very purpose – so that neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan would afford any ambiguity in recognising each other’s territorial integrity, by saying, for instance, that a part of the country’s territory does not really belong to that country.

The next principle of normalising relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan is contained in the Granada statement in the following manner: ‘They stressed the urgent need to work towards border delimitation based on the most recent USSR General Staff maps that have been provided to the sides, which should also be a basis for distancing of forces, and for finalising the peace treaty and addressing all humanitarian issues’.

As a result of the 15 July meeting held in Brussels with the EU Council President, the President of Azerbaijan and myself, Council President Charles Michel made the following statement: ‘Both leaders reconfirmed their unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration as a political framework for the delimitation’.

As a result of the 6 October 2022 quadrilateral meeting in Prague, the same principle was defined as follows: ‘Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed their commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and to the 1991 Almaty Declaration, through which both recognise each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. They confirmed it would be a basis for the work of the border delimitation commissions.’

What you need to know additionally about this principle is the following. The Almaty Declaration was signed by the 12 Republics of the Soviet Union on 21 December 1991. In this context, there were two important clauses in that declaration. Firstly, the Soviet Union shall cease to exist, and secondly, the Republics shall recognise each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The inviolability of the existing administrative borders and, therefore, the administrative borders between the ex-Soviet Republics would turn into state borders.

Azerbaijan has claimed that there is no border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but this contradicts the Almaty Declaration and the aforementioned understandings. Azerbaijan also maintains ambiguity in accepting the most recent Soviet Union maps as a basis for delimitation. Some experts have assumed, based on this, that Azerbaijan is creating a foundation for territorial claims and a new military aggression against Armenia.

Ladies and gentlemen, the next principle for normalising relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and for peace is contained in the Granada statement as follows: ‘They called for the opening of regional connectivity links based on full respect of countries’ sovereignty and jurisdiction as well as on the principles of equality and reciprocity’.

In his statements on 15 July, after the meeting held in Brussels between the EU Council President, the President of Azerbaijan and myself, Council President Charles Michel stated the following: ‘We’, meaning the EU Council President, the President of Azerbaijan and myself, ‘discussed modalities of future transport arrangements which will respect the principles of sovereignty, jurisdiction and reciprocity’.

What you should know about this principle, in addition, is the following. Azerbaijan has continued to claim that Armenia must provide a corridor to Azerbaijan via Armenia’s own territory. In common international talk, we understand a corridor as a simple interstate road, but in our region there’s a specificity.

In the 9 November 2020 trilateral statement, the word ‘corridor’ is used only in reference to the Lachin corridor, which was supposed to ensure a link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. The specificity is that, under the 9 November 2020 statement, the Lachin corridor would not just be a road; it would be a five-kilometre-wide territorial layer that would lie outside of Azerbaijan’s control and would be under the control of the peacekeepers. So in this context, the word ‘corridor’ has that connotation of an extraterritorial layer.

Armenia has never, under any circumstances, agreed or promised to accept any restriction of its sovereignty or jurisdiction. Armenia has not made such a promise. So what does the aforementioned principle mean? It simply means that Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on the basis of their sovereignty and jurisdiction – and without any reference to corridors – to open their roads for each other. At the checkpoints of these roads, there would be border control and other control services under the jurisdiction of the respective countries, and based on their sovereignty and legislation. This would be done according to the principle of reciprocity and equality.

We are ready for such solutions as soon as possible. We are ready to restore the Meghri railway linking, via the south of Armenia, not just Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also Armenia’s southern regions with the north-western regions; Azerbaijan’s south-western regions with the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan; Armenia subsequently with Turkey; Azerbaijan with Turkey; Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia with the Islamic Republic of Iran; the east with the west, from the Caspian to the Mediterranean; the north to the south, from the Gulf to the Black Sea.

In Armenia we call this project the ‘Armenian Crossroads’ but I think the time has come for further regionalising and rebranding this project. And here, in this important House, the time has come to call it the ‘Crossroads of Peace’, a name that would be just as important and acceptable for us.

Along the same logic, we are ready for the roads to be opened. The Republic of Armenia is committed to securing the movement of goods, vehicles, people, pipelines and electricity lines, because a crossroads of peace implies also the passage of pipelines and electricity lines. These solutions are very important for the Republic of Armenia as well, because for 30 years now our country has been in a blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

As you can see, there is no basis for accusing Armenia of obstructing the opening of regional transport communications. Some analysis indicates that official Baku is misrepresenting the international narrative in order to incite a new war in the region, occupy further territories of Armenia or keep Armenia in a blockade. This cannot be allowed.

As you saw, all of the aforementioned principles were fleshed out and agreed upon with the participation of the EU Council President and the President of Azerbaijan. We are ready to implement these understandings as far as transport communications are concerned.

In accordance with the aforementioned principle, including the principle of reciprocity, we are ready to simplify the procedures. We’re ready to ensure the safe passage of Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijani goods via our territory, hoping for reciprocity.

We’re ready for the mirrored withdrawal of the troops from the 1991 border line, which would mean that Azerbaijan would not have armed forces in the territory of Armenia and vice versa. We’re also ready, on the basis of reciprocity, to address the question of the so-called enclaves, as declared in my interview with Armenia’s public television on 10 October.

And, finally, we’re ready by the end of this year to sign an agreement on peace and normalisation of relations with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan refused to take part in the Granada meeting, which had actually been agreed upon in Brussels on 15 July and that agreement, too, was contained in President Michel’s statements made after the meeting. Clearly, that failure to come to the meeting did not make the process any easier.

But in the course of this year, as the President of Parliament has said, we’ve agreed that we will have a meeting in Brussels during this month, and if the aforementioned principles are officially reconfirmed, then the signing of a peace and normalisation agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan will become highly realistic by the end of this year.

We are also ready to have an overall exchange of prisoners of war, detainees and arrested persons. We’re ready to closely cooperate to determine the fate of the missing persons. At the moment, 1 016 citizens of Armenia are considered to be missing.

We stand ready to cooperate on de-mining. I wish to emphasise that, back in 2021, Armenia received from Nagorno-Karabakh, and passed to Azerbaijan, all of the maps of minefields that were available to the Armenian side. We did so without preconditions, as an expression of goodwill, but unfortunately Azerbaijan did not perceive it as a step aimed at peace, but rather as a trigger for escalating its aggressive rhetoric against Armenia.

In spite of this, we must resolutely move towards peace. Doing so requires political will. I and the government and the parliamentary majority of Armenia have this political will. On the other hand, the international community and the European Union and the countries of our region need to support us to the best of their ability to use this opportunity to make it realistic for us, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

This is where I seek your continued support and attention, especially for the realisation of the principles that I discussed. As I said already, these principles were agreed upon with the participation of Council President Charles Michel and the President of Azerbaijan.

Esteemed President, honourable Members of Parliament, dear attendees, turning to the EU-Armenia relationship, in recent years the EU has been a key partner supporting the fundamental reforms of the Armenian Government. The Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement is crucial. It is one of the pillars of our reform agenda, which is now in the phase of active implementation.

Since February, Armenia has had a long-term civilian mission of the European Union, which monitors the security situation alongside Armenia’s state border with Azerbaijan. This is an important milestone. For the first time, the European Union has become engaged in Armenia’s security agenda. The foundation for this was laid during the quadrilateral meeting in Prague on 6 October 2022.

As for reforms to strengthen democracy, we receive EU support in our police reform. This month, in a matter of just a few days – two weeks, in fact – we will finalise the formation of an all-new patrol police in Armenia. We expect to continue cooperating on the reforms of the police, the rescue service, the judiciary – to have an independent judiciary – education and public administration.

Our agenda with the EU is indeed very extensive. It’s important to reinvigorate the projects implemented under the economic and investment plan of the EU. Important objectives include: sustainable economic development, modernisation of infrastructure, digitalisation and technological development, and strengthening the resilience of Armenia’s southern regions. The latter is important not only for the country’s development but also for building durable peace in the region.

Projects worth more than EUR 400 million have already launched under this programme. About EUR 270 million are for facilitating SME access to finance. About EUR 34 million are for technological development. Another EUR 43 million are for strengthening the resilience of the Syunik region, and about EUR 62 million are for the green development of the city of Yerevan.

And this is not all: on 5 October, in Granada, two very important documents for the EU-Armenia relationship were adopted. One is the quadrilateral statement between President Michel, President Macron, Chancellor Scholz and myself. The other one is the bilateral statement between President von der Leyen and myself.

Both statements express support for strengthening the EU-Armenia relationship on all levels in view of the needs of the Republic of Armenia. We have undertaken to further strengthen the EU-Armenia relationship. In the long run, the European Union and Armenia are committed to strengthening economic ties by unleashing the full potential of the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement.

Based on all of this, ladies and gentlemen, I can announce clearly and with confidence: Armenia is ready to be closer to the European Union, as far as the European Union would consider possible. Our joint statements with President von der Leyen reads: ‘In these difficult times, the EU and Armenia stand shoulder to shoulder’.

Let us continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with a commitment to make these times better. As I said, I am convinced that democracy can provide peace, security, solidarity, prosperity and happiness. Let us prove this together. Long live democracy!



  President. – Thank you to the Prime Minister of Armenia.

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