Ex-president of Armenia Kocharyan gives first big interview since release from prison
Former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan has given his first big interview since his release from arrest.
He touched upon numerous topics, including the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijani-Turkish military exercises near the Armenian border.
The ex-president was arrested on July 28, 2018, after being charged with ‘overthrowing the constitutional order’ – that is, his alleged responsibility for the March 1, 2008 events, when 10 people were killed during protests against the results of the presidential elections in March 2008.
His lawyers have already succeeded three times in obtaining a change in the preventive measure. He was last released from arrest by a decision of the Court of Appeal on June 19, 2020 on a 2 billion dram [about $4 million] bail.
However, on July 1, the Prosecutor General’s Office filed a cassation appeal against the decision to release him. It has not yet been considered by the court.
“The danger of a renewed war is very high.”
One of the main topics of the interview was the July hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
Kocharyan presented his version of these events.
In his opinion, for the first time in two years, the Armenian armed forces thwarted Azerbaijan’s attempt to improve its combat positions. At the same time, the Armenian Armed Forces not only prevented the enemy’s intentions, but, according to him, were able to improve their own positions in the process.
The Azerbaijani side, trying to return to the previous situation, began shelling Armenian border villages. Thus, the local battle developed into large-scale hostilities, the ex-president said.
Recent events have convinced Kocharyan not only that the President of Azerbaijan is “not very constructive, but that [Azerbaijanis] are not ready for peace’.
According to him, even during the active phase of the Karabakh war, that is, in the period from 1991 to 1994, there were no such clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Russia or the United States, which were observed in recent days: “Today we have not only a government seeking revenge in Azerbaijan, but also a similarly minded Azerbaijani people. And when these two circumstances combine, the danger of a renewed war increases.”
On the Karabakh problem
The ex-president commented on the issue of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
In this regard, he recalled two statements by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The first of them is “Artsakh is Armenia, period,” which he did in August 2019 during a rally in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Robert Kocharyan, this contradicts another statement of the head of state – that the solution of the Karabakh problem should satisfy all sides of the conflict:
“I am trying to understand how the formula “Artsakh is Armenia, full stop” can be combined with a solution that should satisfy all parties. The formula of these authorities implies that either Karabakh should abandon the idea of independence, or Azerbaijan should agree with the independence of Karabakh.”
The ex-president believes that it is impossible to count on the constructive position of the Azerbaijani government, therefore, the conflict cannot be settled for a long time.
Azerbaijani-Turkish military exercises
The large-scale joint military exercises between Turkey and Azerbaijan near the Armenian border, which began on July 29, Kocharyan considers a “show of force”:
“Such large-scale exercises are not only exercises for the sake of exercises, but a serious political signal to all countries in the region. I don’t think they can escalate into an invasion, but the fact is that you are being told that such a scenario is possible. ”