YEREVAN/BAKU — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has told the nation that he sees no possibility of a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, dampening international efforts to forge a sustainable truce between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway territory.
“We have to realize that the Karabakh question, at least at this stage and for a very long time, cannot have a diplomatic solution,” Pashinian said during a speech broadcast on Facebook Live on October 21.
“Everything that is diplomatically acceptable to the Armenian side…is not acceptable to Azerbaijan anymore,” he said, calling on Armenians to “take up arms and defend the Motherland.”
Pashinian’s comments followed statements by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in which he said that he foresaw a military resolution to the crisis and that Azerbaijani forces would drive Armenians “out of our lands.”
The rhetoric has cast a pall on the diplomatic push to end fighting between Azerbaijani and ethnic Armenian forces, with Armenia’s President Armen Sarkisian visiting Brussels for talks with the European Union and NATO, while the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers are in Moscow for consultations with Russia.
Hundreds of soldiers and civilians have been killed since late September, when fighting flared up over the mountainous enclave run and populated by ethnic Armenians but recognized internationally as Azerbaijani.
After Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow, the Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu, said that Baku remained committed to efforts to forge a peace deal.
“Bayramov reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s commitment to efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully,” Bulbuloglu told the Russian state agency TASS.
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian met separately with Lavrov on October 21, but there was no face-to-face meeting between Azerbaijani and Armenian ministers.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the talks centered on “urgent issues related to implementing agreements reached earlier on a cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and creating conditions for its sustainable settlement.”
Bayramov and Mnatsakanian will next travel to Washington for talks on October 23 involving U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a development that has raised hopes of a breakthrough.
Pompeo told reporters that he would tell the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia that “the right path forward is to cease the conflict, tell them to de-escalate, that every country should stay out — provide no fuel for this conflict, no weapons systems, no support.”
“It is at that point that a diplomatic solution, that would be acceptable to all, can potentially be achieved,” he added.