Armenian PM accepts responsibility for Nagorno-Karabakh defeat

Nikol Pashinyan, under pressure, accepts fault and says the government will help victims of six-week war in which hundreds died.

Smoke rises from a burning house as cars and trucks are stuck in along the road from Kalbajar leaving Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia on November 14, 2020 [Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo]

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accepted responsibility for losing the recent battle over Nagorno-Karabakh, as he unveiled a six-month action to ensure democratic stability even as the makeup of the Armenian government was in flux.

Pashinyan has rejected calls from opponents and protesters to resign over what they say was his disastrous handling of a six-week conflict between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and surrounding areas.

Under a Russian-brokered peace deal, swathes of territory previously controlled by ethnic Armenians are being handed over to Azerbaijan whose forces recaptured chunks of territory which Baku lost in an earlier war in the 1990s.

The Armenian foreign minister resigned earlier this week, and the president, largely a figurehead, has called for early parliamentary elections.

Pashinyan, in a Facebook post, reiterated on Wednesday that he took full responsibility for what had happened, but said he was now responsible for stabilising Armenia and ensuring its national security.

“I am completely resolved,” he wrote, before listing 15 action points he wanted to target.

He said he wanted to try to restore a formal negotiation process over Nagorno-Karabakh under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk group and to prioritise the return of people to territory still controlled by ethnic Armenians.

That meant helping people restore homes and damaged infrastructure, offering financial help to the families of soldiers killed in the conflict, and caring properly for those who had been wounded.

He said he also wanted to address the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh, carry out military reform, amend election laws, and focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic and the economy.

“In June 2021 I will present a report on this road map,” Pashinyan wrote. “Public opinion and reaction will be taken into account for deciding future actions”.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijanis are touring the areas they recaptured during the conflict, which killed more than 1,000 people, including civilians on both sides.

The departing ethnic Armenians in those areas have been burning buildings in anger at being forced to leave under the ceasefire agreement.

Hikmet Hajiyev, the assistant to President Ilham Aliyev, shared a video on Twitter on Wednesday of Fuzuli city, saying: “No solid building has been left.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies