Recording suggests Aliyev offered Sargsyan $5 billion for regions around Karabakh
Telegram channel Bagramyan 26 has published 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 $5 billion for the seven regions around Nagorno-Karabakh. President Serzh Sargsyan replies in turn that he is ready to give Aliyev $6 billion if the latter would renounce Azerbaijan’s claim to these territories.
These territories came under the control of the Armenian side during the First Karabakh War in the early 90s and which were considered here a ‘security belt’ for Nagorno-Karabakh. Following the results of the Second Karabakh War, which began on September 27, 2020, these areas have returned to the control of Azerbaijan.
Ex-President Sargsyan’s office refuses to comment on the conversation “in a closed session format,” but does not deny the authenticity of the recording.
Details of the presidents’ conversation
In the conversation, Alexander Lukashenko proposes that the CSTO military bloc, which includes Armenia and Belarus, takes responsibility for the security of Nagorno-Karabakh, if Sargsyan were to agree to return the outlying regions to Azerbaijan:
At the same time, Lukasheno says that it is unlikely that the President of Azerbaijan would start a war if the outlying regions were returned.
Serzh Sargsyan responds that he cannot surrender these seven regions, since “the blood of 5,000 Armenian soldiers has been shed there.”
“So what? We have 30 million killed, but we are not at war with the Germans,” Lukashenka objected.
The publication of the recording has caused a great flurry in Armenia, despite the fact that in 2018, the President of Belarus, in an interview with Russian journalists, had already revealed some of the details of this conversation.
Then Lukashenko said that he had called on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to come to an agreement between themselves and solve this problem by agreeing to compromises, but Sargsyan did not want to give the regions around Karabakh to Azerbaijan.
Serzh Sargsyan’s response
The day after the publication of the recording, the office of ex-President Serzh Sargsyan issued a statement saying:
“The office of the third president accepts the publication of the audio recording as fact and refrains from commenting, given the fact that the meetings held in a closed format, they are not subject to comment, as they were not subject to until now.”