Scandal continues in Armenia over Aliyev's proposed $5 bln 'Karabakh buyout'
Fresh on the heels of news that former Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan was offered $5 billion by Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev in exchange for the seven districts surrounding Nagorno Karabakh, new reports suggest the same offer was made to current PM Nikol Pashinyan.
These seven regions in question came under the control of the Armenian side during the first Karabakh war in the early 1990s and which were considered a ‘security belt’ for Nagorno-Karabakh. Following the results of the second Karabakh war, in the fall of 2020, these areas returned to the control of Azerbaijan.
Former ambassador to the Vatican, son-in-law of former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Mikael Minasyan, said that in October 2018, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was allegedly given an envelope with a proposal from Azerbaijan offering to pay for the seven regions around Nagorno Karabakh.
Minasyan says the sealed envelope was handed over to the former head of the National Security Service of Armenia Artur Vanetsyan by the head of the special services of Azerbaijan. And Vanetsyan handed it over to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
A direct participant in the events, the former head of the National Security Service, has already confirmed the fact of communication with his Azerbaijani counterpart.
All the details of the story below.
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Commentary of the former head of the NSS
In an interview with Hraparak newspaper, Artur Vanetsyan recalled that since 2018, Armenia and Azerbaijan have established operational communication to prevent incidents on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. In September 2018, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan himself also said that such an agreement had been reached following a meeting with Ilham Aliyev in Dushanbe.
According to Vanetsyan, this proposal was carried out through him and another state official:
“Within the framework of operational communication, I periodically met with representatives of Azerbaijan, including in Dubai. During these contacts, I received a lot of information and passed it on to Pashinyan, and all the members of the Security Council knew about these contacts”, Vanetsyan says.
Vanetsyan refused to disclose further content of the conversations during these meetings, as he received this information while on duty.
Aliyev’s proposal to Sargsyan
Most recently, the Bagramyan 26 Telegram channel distributed an audio 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.
In the recording, the President of Belarus says that the President of Azerbaijan is ready to pay Armenia five billion dollars for seven regions around Nagorno-Karabakh. Serzh Sargsyan replies that he is ready to give Aliyev six billion to give up his claim to these territories.
Ex-President Sargsyan’s office declined to comment on the conversation “in a closed session”, but did not deny the authenticity of the recording.