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Russia, US, France should press for peace in Karabakh more actively — Armenian premier

"If Nagorno-Karabakh won’t fight, all Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh will be killed, without any exaggeration," he said

LONDON, September 30. /TASS/. Russia, the United States and France, who are co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group, should press more actively for peace and stability in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told BBC on Tuesday.

"Moscow is formally and legally a strategic partner of Armenia, but the fact is that now Moscow is totally neutral," the Armenian premier said. "Russia is a member of the Minsk Group co-chairmanship, and, to be honest, it is her duty to be neutral. But I think Russia, and United States, and France should not only support stability and peace, but, maybe, make more effort for that."

According to Pashinyan, the majority of foreign media have a "huge misunderstanding on the core of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," which they try to portray as a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"This isn’t a territorial dispute, this is a simple attempt from the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh to use the right of self-determination," the Armenian prime minister said.

In his words, Armenia cannot unilaterally declare a ceasefire with Azerbaijan, because the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh is facing "existential threat."

"If Nagorno-Karabakh won’t fight, all Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh will be killed, without any exaggeration," he said.

In an interview with The Spectator, published on Tuesday, Pashinyan said that the current escalation of conflict was a coordinated action by Turkey and Azerbaijan, where "Turkey is managing the whole process" and is "not trying to hide this."

In his words, Ankara’s external policy reflects its "imperial aspirations," destabilizes the situation in Southern Caucasus and the Mediterranean region and "has nothing to do with strengthening NATO."

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh escalated on September 27, when Azerbaijan said its positions had come under extensive fire from Armenia. Armenia, in turn, said the Azerbaijani army had staged an offensive in the direction of Nagorno-Karabakh. It said a number of settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh, including its administrative center Stepanakert, had come under shelling by Azerbaijan. Both sides report casualties, including among civilians. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have imposed martial law and announced mobilization.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.