EXCLUSIVE: Pashinyan's interview to BBC is disappointing and depressing - Bryza

"Prime Minister Pashinyan's interview on HARDtalk today on the BBC with Stephen Sackur was not surprising but it was disappointing and really a missed opportunity. Whereas the Prime Minister was trying to make himself sound like a peacemaker and like he was bringing fresh ideas to the table and he was trying to strengthen Armenia's ties with EU, with NATO, with the United States on security issues. What he said contradicted all that and that's because he finds himself in a very difficult position," Matthew Bryza, former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan and former OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, exclusively told News.Az.

"He's never been able to consolidate his own political strength as a newcomer in a revolutionary. And so he's had to fall back not only to the same old positions on various issues as his predecessors same Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharian, but he's even going backward. So we heard during this interview today PM Pashinyan said I want to bring peace and I'm saying something no one has ever said before that whatever there is must be acceptable to the people of Armenia of Nagorno-Karabakh and of Azerbaijan and this is a fresh new approach. Well, what he did there was to try to sneak in that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh are separate and independent. And we all know the people of Nagorno-Karabakh today are Armenian residents and that Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory. So that was an attempt to pocket on international TV his claim that Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians need to be treated independently as independent leaders and that is something that has not been the case for decades. Serzh Sargsyan did not demand that which is just much backtracking and Robert Kocharian ended the status of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians as a separate negotiating entity. So that was one problem," the former diplomat said.

According to Bryza, Prime Minister Pashinyan dodged some difficult questions from Mr. Sackur and that's because there are no good answers.

"I mean Pashinyan is boxed into a corner by Moscow. So when Sackur said I mean well in the real world countries have to choose today whether or not they're going to be oriented into in the direction of NATO and the European Union and United States or toward Moscow. He said yes we're members of the Eurasian Economic Union with Russia but we also have a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU whenever we want to have both," he stressed.

"And he said we have good relationships with NATO and with the US military, but what he failed to say is that Armenia is a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, which is Russia's military alliance of several post-soviet countries, not Azerbaijan, of course. He also missed a great opportunity to break new ground, new positive ground in keeping with what he said a year ago to President Aliyev which is "we need to prepare our populations for peace". Stephen Sackur gave him a great opportunity to do that by acknowledging and apologizing for the whole Khojaly Massacre and he could not do it. So he had chances to move things forward. He seemed a year ago like he wanted to do so but today apparently and depressingly Pashinyan has decided he has no choice but to toe the line, to toe Moscow's line on foreign policy and to toe the line of his opponents within Armenia and give up on all of the progress that previous leaders of Armenia and the current leader of Azerbaijan had made within the Minsk Group to agree in principle on a framework settlement before the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," Bryza said.

"So I find this interview today again not surprising but quite disappointing and even depressing. He was not speaking at all like a revolutionary or new leader. He was speaking like somebody who's the prisoner of all the old political mess and swamp of Armenian polity," he concluded.


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