Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Tuesday he believed that only a change in Turkey’s stance on Nagorno-Karabakh could prompt Azerbaijan to halt military action over the tiny region.
But, in his first interview since a ceasefire deal was agreed in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh was agreed in Moscow on Saturday, he gave no indication that he saw any sign of Ankara shifting its position.
“I’m convinced that for as long as Turkey’s position remains unchanged, Azerbaijan will not stop fighting,” Pashinyan told Reuters in an interview.
Pashinyan said Turkey had stated publicly, before the ceasefire talks, that it believed Azerbaijan should keep fighting, and that Turkey’s foreign minister had phoned the Azeri foreign minister after the deal.
Pashinyan suggested the purpose of the Turkish post-ceasefire call “was really an instruction not to dare under any circumstance to stop fighting.”
“Turkey has come to the South Caucasus to continue the policy it is carrying out in the Mediterranean against Greece and Cyprus, or in Libya, or in Syria, or in Iraq. It is an expansionist policy,” Pashinyan said.
“And the problem is that Armenians in the South Caucasus are the last remaining obstacle on its path to implement that expansionist policy,” he added.
Pashinyan reiterated accusations – denied by Ankara – that Turkey is carrying on the policies of the Ottoman Empire at the start of the 20th century, something he called a “continuation of the Armenian genocide.”
If left unchecked in the region, Pashinyan warned that Turkish influence could poison the South Caucasus.
“The whole of the South Caucasus will become Syria and that fire would spread to the north and to the south rapidly,” he said.