Former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, who plans to challenge the government in upcoming parliamentary elections, on Monday rejected opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s view that that peace with Azerbaijan is vital for Armenia’s security and prosperity.
Ter-Petrosian reaffirmed his belief in a speech delivered at a December 17 conference of his Armenian National Congress (HAK), a major opposition party. He said all Armenian political and civic groups should help President Serzh Sarkisian achieve a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict proposed by international mediators.
“The Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) issue is not an obstacle to a developing and secure Armenian statehood but quite the opposite,” Ohanian said in a Facebook post.
“The view that Armenia cannot develop without a quick resolution of the Karabakh conflict is fundamentally wrong or sincerely delusional,” he wrote. “It is not only far from reality … but also weakens Armenia’s positions in the negotiation process.”
Ohanian, who was sacked as defense minister in early October, argued that the Armenian economy grew at double-digit rates for almost a decade preceding the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. He said Armenia can enjoy a “sustainable development” if it holds free elections and elects a legitimate government committed to “fair competition.”
While insisting that he supports a compromise Karabakh settlement, the retired army general said that “unilateral” and “hasty” concessions to Azerbaijan would only increase the likelihood of another Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
Ter-Petrosian’s spokesman, Arman Musinian, shrugged off Ohanian’s criticism. “His comments are so unserious and wide of the mark that we don’t find it necessary to comment on them,” he said.
“If Seyran Ohanian is entering the electoral race with such a ‘salvation’ platform, then his political career can already be considered finished,” Musinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Ohanian, who was gravely wounded during the 1991-1994 Karabakh war, announced his decision to “actively” participate in the April 2017 elections on December 19. He said he will strive to bring about political and economic changes in the country but did not name any political allies.
Victor Dallakian, who too was a senior government official until recently, claimed on Friday that his opposition party called Third Republic is poised to form an electoral alliance with Ohanian. Dallakian said the ex-minister is entering the unfolding parliamentary race to try to achieve “regime change.”