“There’s no going back” – ex Armenian president releases videos on April 2016 war
Former President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan has decided to release a series of video messages on his unofficial Facebook page about the April 2016, Four Day War between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The former president first announced that he is interested in talking with the press and is ready to give the public the truth about the April 2016 war. He then showed up at a parliamentary meeting of the commission investigating the circumstances of the April War in 2016.
Serzh Sargsyan promised journalists that he would hold an in-person press conference and answer all questions related to the April escalation immediately after the state of emergency is lifted.
Sargsyan took office as president of Armenia in 2008. He resigned in 2018 under pressure from thousands of people who took to the streets demanding a change of government during the Velvet Revolution.
Sargsyan’s choice of format
Serzh Sargsyan explained why he decided to publish his messages by video. He stated that the failed attempts to combat the coronavirus and the government’s choice to continue extending the state of emergency prevent him from fulfilling his promise to speak at a press conference:
“In light of these circumstances, I chose to release videos. They will not replace the traditional press conferences that I had in mind, and will only precede them.
“The subject of my press conference will be the April 2016 war. At this meeting, the journalists and I will be able to choose the topic of the next press conference: the events of April 2018, Karabakh, or other issues”.
Sargsyan noted that he is ready to answer all questions honestly and provide the public with all the details of the events that occurred during his presidency:
“There’s no going back to the past, but we must understand that the history of Armenia did not begin in April 2018. In order to move forward, we must clarify everything that has happened in the past”.
The ex-president justified his two-year silence by saying that he was reluctant to worsen the situation in the country by “exacerbating the polarisation and dividing our society”:
“2018 was a very emotional year. Chaos and aggression grew day by day, delighting only our enemies, and in this very emotional atmosphere, a significant part of our society was not ready to listen to the simple truth. It took time for everyone to understand the situation on their own”.
The lost 800 hectares of land
Many accuse the ex-president of losing 800 hectares of land during the April War of 2016, as he himself acknowledged earlier.
In his video message, he said that after more accurate measurements were conducted, it turned out that 400 hectares were lost, not 800.
Serzh Sargsyan claims that he did not order the armed forces to return these territories because he “gave highest priority to the lives of soldiers”.
In any case, the former president believes that Armenia was victorious in April 2016:
“Without a doubt, this was a victory. Victory in relation to the enemy, who was outnumbered, suddenly attacked, and used all the weapons at their disposal. We defended all our towns and villages and successfully pushed the enemy back”.
Serzh Sargsyan also spoke about those killed during the 2016 hostilities:
“I sincerely regret that it was impossible to save everyone. All my thoughts and sentiments are with their families. It is impossible to expect that there would be no casualties during the conflict. But we all know for certain that our soldiers and officers fought heroically. 75 of them who died too young, and left their bodies behind in Karabakh and Armenia”.
The ex-president assures that, “foreign intelligence sources report that the enemy suffered 4-5 times more losses”:
“Even our adversaries have recently started reporting that the Azerbaijanis…lost over a thousand soldiers”.
The Karabakh negotiations
Serzh Sargsyan believes that the April War “was in no way beneficial to Azerbaijan”:
“Do you remember Aliyev’s statement, when he said that ‘behind closed doors I am forced to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh’? Of course, this statement speaks to our diplomatic successes.
Among our other diplomatic successes are the statements made in Vienna and St. Petersburg. After the hostilities, the OSCE Minsk Group issued a statement that the tripartite [Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh] ceasefire agreement of 1994 remains in force”.
The ex-president also recalled the statements made by mediators about the need to create international mechanisms to investigate incidents on the contact line:
“This is a very important achievement. Now the question is how could we use the events of the April War to our advantage, and why…the “revolutionary government” ignored and could not use the achievements made during this conflict”.
Criminal case against Sargsyan
After the Velvet Revolution, a criminal case was opened against the former president. Sargsyan is charged in the so-called “diesel case”. It is assumed that he is guilty of misappropriation more than one million dollars of budgetary funds.
If he is proven guilty, Sargsyan may be sentenced to 4-8 years.
He does not admit his guilt and considers this case to be an example of political persecution.
Terms, place names, opinions and ideas expressed in this publication do not necessarily coincide with the opinions and ideas of JAMnews or its individual employees. JAMnews reserves the right to remove comments on posts that are deemed offensive, threatening, violent or otherwise ethically unacceptable.