Tbilisi, Sep 24 (EFE).- Armenia’s embattled Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called for a foreign policy shift to decrease its reliance on its ally Russia after Azerbaijan regained control over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region this week.
Pashinyan expressed his concerns about the effectiveness of Armenian involvement in external security arrangements, particularly in safeguarding its national interests.
“The systems of external security in which Armenia is involved are ineffective when it comes to the protection of our security and Armenia’s national interests,” Pashinyan said in a televised address to the nation.
He said the profound meaning of what happened in recent years had left Armenia wondering if it would be “a sovereign, free, and democratic country or a frightened province.”
Pashinyan, who accuses Russia of abandoning Yeravan in the face of Azerbaijani aggression despite Russia maintaining a military base in Armenia, stressed the need to shift Armenia’s internal and external security strategies.
“We must transform and supplement the instruments of Armenia’s external and domestic security in cooperation with all the partners who are ready for mutually beneficial steps,” Pashinyan said.
Pashinyan said the security system “is not effective in defending the security and interests of Armenia” and has only highlighted the country’s vulnerability and inability to be independent.
His address to the nation coincided with thousands of protesters gathering in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to denounce his failure to support Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan forced the breakaway region to surrender after Baku launched a special anti-terrorist operation in the disputed territory.
Pashinyan stressed that “some partners” had endangered not only external security but also “internal stability,” in a veiled dig at Russia, which some in Yerevan accuse of fomenting the anti-government wave of protests.
“In response to these actions, we call on our colleagues to respect our state and our sovereignty,” he said, urging the international community to declare its firm support for the independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty, and democracy of Armenia.
“We will take all measures for the defense of our independence.”
He expressed willingness to approve the agreement with Azerbaijan to delimit the border between both countries.
It is a fundamental condition for signing a peace treaty, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Alíev has also agreed to sign it.
He said Yerevan was preparing to ratify the Rome Statute, the treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin in March for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Pashinyan said the decision was not against Russia but to seek guarantees for Armenian security. “It is our sovereign right.”
He said the country decided to ratify the statute in December 2022 when it was evident that the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the strategic partnership between Armenia and Russia were “not sufficient to guarantee our security.”
The Armenian leader called on his citizens to choose whether to be part of the “independence movement or provincial subordination.”
“The Armenian citizen will win in this fight for independence, sovereignty, democracy, happiness, and freedom.”
Pashinyan has had tense relations with Russia, which Yerevan accuses of prioritizing its Azerbaijani partner over its Armenian ally.