Here are my thoughts on how the negotiations changed throughout the past years:

IMO, at least the past 10 years, Aze govt. viewed those principles only as a way to regain control on the whole (NKAO as well). For them the referendum thing was mere a way to allow Arm side to save their face.
So while Nikol during its populist speech for internal audience told something like "not a single mm to the enemy", IMO that was in the (unspoken) context "even hypothetical independence for Karabakh (NKAO) is impossible for Aze".
Back then Nikol should've thorough publicize what exactly was on negotiations table at least before him. That way not only he wouldn’t lose any political dividends, but also Armenians would’ve been prepared at least for some compromises... One of his major mistakes...

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