YEREVAN, August 17. /ARKA/. Armenians do not want war, but they are ready to deliver a crushing rebuff to any provocation of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a rally in Yerevan on Friday.
“I have said that I am ready to negotiate the Karabakh issue on behalf of Armenia, but the leadership of Karabakh should speak on behalf of its people. We really do not want war, we are ready for a truly peaceful negotiation, for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but those who try to cast a shadow on me, they do not understand that it is not the government but the people that decide the Karabakh issue,” he said.
“When I see that there is an option that we can really discuss, I will come and stand here in the square, I will present it in detail, and you will decide whether we should agree to it or not,” said the premier.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupted into armed clashes after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s as the predominantly Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan sought to secede from Azerbaijan and declared its independence backed by a successful referendum.
On May 12, 1994, the Bishkek cease-fire agreement put an end to the military operations. A truce was brokered by Russia in 1994, although no permanent peace agreement has been signed. Since then, Nagorno-Karabakh and several adjacent regions have been under the control of Armenian forces of Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh is the longest-running post-Soviet era conflict and has continued to simmer despite the relative peace of the past two decades, with snipers causing tens of deaths a year. On April 2, 2016, Azerbaijan launched military assaults along the entire perimeter of its contact line with Nagorno-Karabakh. Four days later a cease-fire was reached