Ex-President of Armenia Sargsyan thrashes PM in interview
The Armenian public is discussing a recent interview with ex-President Serzh Sargsyan.
For an hour and a half, the former leader of the country harshly criticized the current authorities. In particular, for the fact that Armenia did not recognize the independence of Karabakh in the fall of 2020 during the 44-day war.
He presented the history of the negotiation process on Karabakh, in which he himself participated, refuting the statements of the current prime minister about the mistakes made at that time.
Sargsyan confirmed that he had received an offer of billions of dollars for Karabakh, which was mediated by the President of Belarus. The ex-president does not exclude that the same proposal was made to the current Prime Minister of Armenia.
After two constitutionally allowed terms in office, Serzh Sargsyan was elected by the parliament as Prime Minister of Armenia, but remained in office for about a week. He resigned on April 23, 2018, at the request of thousands of people who took to the streets during the Velvet Revolution. On May 8, the leader of the protest movement Nikol Pashinyan took office in his place.
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Refutation of Pashinyan’s statements
“We negotiated [on Karabakh] around what we get, not what we give back,” Serzh Sargsyan said. This was a refutation of Nikol Pashinyan’s statement that the previous Armenian authorities had entered negotiations on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict into a dead end and only discussed the cession of territories.
Pashinyan, according to the ex-president, did not understand the meaning of the negotiations: for the previous negotiators from Armenia, the ‘red lines’ were that Karabakh should not be part of Azerbaijan.
The negotiation process one way or another guaranteed a referendum on NK’s independence, Sargsyan said.
In particular, he spoke about the Kazan document of 2011. According to this proposal of the negotiators, Karabakh would have an intermediate status and the following guarantees:
- the security of Nagorno-Karabakh is ensured by the self-defense forces of NK itself
- Armenia is officially the guarantor of its security
- all branches of government (legislative, executive, judicial) are recognized by the international community
- NK receives the right to membership in those international organizations, for entry into which independence is not a prerequisite
“In this case, the Armenian side would transfer five regions to Azerbaijan, but until the referendum on the independence of Karabakh is agreed upon, it would retain the Lachin and Kelbajar regions,” Sargsyan added.
According to the ex-president, the “Lavrov plan” as such did not exist. It was about 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. And it got the name “Lavrov’s plan”.
It is generally accepted in Armenia that he allegedly envisioned the return of some territories to Azerbaijan without agreeing on the future status of Karabakh.
“I wanted to stay in power, being ready to sign this option, but I was not sure that the society would approve of it,” Sargsyan said.
Therefore, he said, he was going to organize broad discussions with the aim of reaching a consensus.
On the “billion-dollar bargaining” for Karabakh
In December 2020, a recording of a personal conversation between former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, which took place in Yerevan on October 14, 2016, appeared on the Internet.
On the tape, Lukashenka says the Azerbaijani president is ready to pay $5 billion for seven regions around Nagorno-Karabakh. Serzh Sargsyan replies that he is ready to give Aliyev six billion to give up these territories.
We are talking about the areas that came under the control of the Armenian side during the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s and which were here considered a “security belt” for Nagorno-Karabakh. As a result of the second Karabakh war, which began on September 27, 2020, these areas returned under the control of Azerbaijan.
Sargsyan confirmed the authenticity of the recording:
“They understood very well what I wanted to say. When I answered Lukashenka, or rather through Lukashenka to Aliyev, I said that Karabakh and people’s lives are not subject to bargaining. My answer was not joking, but dry. ‘If your criteria are measured in money, then I will give more.’ That’s what I wanted to say. And if Aliyev had somehow agreed to this, then I have no doubt that all wealthy Armenians would have collected this money.”
When asked about the likelihood that the same proposal was made to the current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the ex-president said:
“I can’t rule it out. In any case, it became known that Aliyev and the capitulator [as he called in an interview with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – JAMnews] were in secret negotiations. It is known who led these negotiations.
It is known that the one providing operational communication [with Azerbaijan] from the Armenian side handed over a letter to the capitulator. And he did not break it, did not say that there were unacceptable things, but said: “Very good.” I cannot insist that there was a proposal, but I cannot deny. “
“What prevented the recognition of independence?”
Armenia should have recognized the independence of Karabakh during the military actions of 2020, the former president is sure. He said that he did not understand why “these authorities” did not take this step in 44 days:
“If the co-chairs, if the international community believed that in the negotiation process, recognition of the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia would mean entering the negotiation process into a dead end and, as a result, military actions, and if military actions [were already underway] – what prevented the recognition of independence?”
Sargsyan recalled the four-day war in Karabakh in 2016. Then, in his words, he told the ambassadors accredited in Armenia that if the war drags on, then Armenia will recognize the independence of NK.
“Thank God, the war did not last long, as a result of the war we had Vienna and St. Petersburg [talks about meetings with Ilham Aliyev in Austria and Russia in May and June – JAMnews], so I thought it was too early to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh” , – he said.
When asked whether it is too late to recognize the independence of Karabakh, Sargsyan said: “Sooner or later we will come to this”:
“But we have to be judicious and find the right time. We were obliged to do this and were obliged to tell the world that we are doing this in order to try to save the population of Nagorno-Karabakh from destruction. “