Armenian ex-president releases controversial alleged recording of PM Pashinyan
Former President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan has released a recording of what he claims to be the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan talking about the negotiation process for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. In this recording, a male voice can be heard talking about a meeting with the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus in Sochi in 2018.
In particular, in an alleged recording of the prime minister, the so-called Lavrov plan and the status of Nagorno-Karabakh are discussed. With whom exactly was Nikol Pashinyan sharing information at the time when he was recorded remains unknown, as no other voices can be heard in the recording and the ex-president did not specify this either.
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Why was the recording leaked?
An election campaign is currently underway in Armenia, as early parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 20. All participants of the electoral race are now traveling to the regions of the country and meeting the voters. During one of such meetings, Nikol Pashinyan accused ex-President Serzh Sargsyan of “spending money stolen from the army in a Monte Carlo casino”.
Sargsyan personally denied this accusation, but at the same time said that he would give the prime minister 24 hours to prove his allegations:
“He must either present the facts, or I will release such facts about him and his family that society will spit on him. If he does not present the facts, I will deal with him”, Sargsyan said.
What the recording is about
Once the 24 hours expired, the ex-president, at a meeting with voters in Gegharkunik region, released a recording that, according to the former president, would vilify Pashinyan on the eve of the elections. At the same time, he stressed that he did not intend to give out compromising material that dishonored his family, although he did not rule out this in the future.
The main intention of Serzh Sargsyan’s decision to publish the recording was to place all responsibility for the failure of the negotiations and the beginning of the second Karabakh war in the fall of 2020 on the incumbent head of state.
In the recording, what seems to be Nikol Pashinyan is talking about the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and his first meeting with the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus after the Velvet Revolution in May 2018.
“Putin, Nazarbayev, and Lukashenka come and tell me: ‘The people trust you very much, you have had a historic chance to resolve the Karabakh issue. It was the same decision as in the ‘Lavrov plan”: the withdrawal of troops, and them entering [the region]”.
Earlier the ex-president of Armenia explained that the “Lavrov plan” as such did not exist, as it was a modified version of the Kazan document. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed this settlement option on behalf of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs which is how it got the name ‘Lavrov’s plan’.
In one of his interviews after the end of the second Karabakh war, Serzh Sargsyan stated that he was going to sign this document. It is generally accepted in Armenia that he allegedly intended the return of some territories to Azerbaijan without agreeing on the future status of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
On the recording, Pashinyan says that without defining the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, this issue cannot be discussed. To this, the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus say that Aliyev understands that “Karabakh will never be a part of Azerbaijan”.
In response to this sensational statement, Pashinyan proposes to fix it:
“I tell them, they say, good, this is interesting, I propose to write all this on paper. And this will be an interesting topic for discussion, I will bring this piece of paper and tell the people that such a topic exists”.
But Pashinyan’s interlocutors, according to him, do not agree to this and say that the President of Azerbaijan cannot openly declare this, since he will be accused of treason.
“I understand you, he is your old friend, you don’t want to be considered a traitor, you want me to become a traitor”, Pashinyan replies.
The prime minister also said that after this conversation, he understood that it was necessary at any cost to get off this “conveyor”, to get out of the negotiation deadlock, which had previously led to the war in 2016. It is necessary to do this by any means, even by “pretending to be crazy”, the main thing is to get out of this vicious circle.
First reaction from the ruling party
From the ruling bloc, the first to “drain” the speech recording of the acting Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Alen Simonyan reacted to the Prime Minister:
“A very important episode, we ourselves could not publish it. Thank you”, wrote Simonyan on Facebook.
Pashinyan’s team believes that the recording only confirms that Pashinyan, unlike Serzh Sargsyan, was not going to sign any document that does not identify the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.