‘Armenian prisoners have been in Azerbaijan for 7-8 years, why didn’t you ask about them before?’ Pashinyan’s noteworthy response

“There have always been Armenian prisoners in Azerbaijan over the past several years. Now, it is simply clear that there is a large number of prisoners. By that logic, more captives were returned on November 9th than any other date before. Why hasn’t this question been raised in this hall for many years? This issue has always been on Armenia’s agenda- the return of prisoners. Why wasn’t this question ever raised? Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations have taken place for many years in different formats. Why didn’t this question rise either during our administration or previous ones? Why did you go, why weren’t you able to return the prisoners? Therefore, why aren’t you resigning?” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in response to Bright Armenia deputy Gevorg Gorgisyan during a questions and answers session of the National Assembly and government.

Gorgisyan had asked Pashinyan, “We didn’t call you a traitor or land-giver when we demanded your resignation. We expressed our doubt that you would be able to present and defend Armenia’s interests adequately on international platforms. January 11th was proof of that. No progress was made in terms of prisoners. You are no longer able to defend Armenia’s interests. Why aren’t you resigning to give other forces the opportunity to continue negotiations in a way that supports Armenians as much as possible?”

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Pashinyan continued his thoughts regarding why no questions were raised before. “You went and negotiated. You were unable to sign the association agreement. Why aren’t you resigning.” “We need to understand if we want the prisoners to return, or if we want to win political points by not returning the prisoners.”

According to him, it is difficult to fight on five fronts for the return of prisoners. “Armenian prisoners have been in Azerbaijan for 7-8 years, why didn’t you ask about them before? Why weren’t you saying that there were prisoners for 2.5 years? There were discussions on different platforms about why these governments were not returning those prisoners. But that government returned them. There has never been a return of such a large number of prisoners ever before. If you believe that I am not able to serve the interests of Armenia, then I must say that you are not able to serve Armenia’s interests as the opposition. You think you are resolving the issue of prisoners? You, with your resolutions and cheap attempts to gather points, are putting our prisoners’ lives, safety, and health in danger. It isn’t mandatory that we discuss the entire content of confidential negotiations here.”

Gorgisyan countered that Pashinyan signed the agreement according to which the 8th point stated that the prisoners need to return, but he is unable to implement that agreement. Then, the deputy said that, if the former governments failed at resolving the Artsakh issue, the issue of prisoners, then there was a revolution. But Pashinyan is trying to excuse his failures and mistakes with the failures of others. Pashinyan responded, “In other words, you claim that the issue of prisoners is closed? It isn’t being discussed, they won’t return? If that’s what you’re saying, then you’re playing an even worse role. Over 40 prisoners returned, right? There were times where they didn’t return, right?”

Hripsime Jebejyan

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