Former President Robert Kocharian has described Nagorno-Karabakh as “an inseparable part of Armenia” and lambasted a senior Armenian government official for disagreeing with that claim.
Kocharian made the statement through a spokesman last week in the context of President Serzh Sarkisian’s rejection of a Karabakh-related precondition for Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union which was set by Kazakhstan. Sarkisian argued Karabakh is not legally part of Armenia and will therefore not be joining the Russian-led union together with the latter.
Kocharian’s press secretary, Victor Soghomonian, effectively claimed the opposite in comments cited by the Armenian media. Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian (no relation to the ex-president) dismissed those remarks on Friday, saying that they could give Azerbaijan more ammunition for presenting Karabakh as an Armenian-occupied territory and denying the Karabakh Armenians the right to self-determination.
Soghomonian responded scathingly to Shavarsh Kocharian in a written statement to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday. He branded the senior diplomat, who was a prominent opposition politician throughout Robert Kocharian’s 1998-2008 presidency, as a flip-flopper who wants to “condemn to oblivion the ultimate aim” of the 1988 popular movement for Karabakh’s reunification with Armenia.
“As president of both the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Armenia, Robert Kocharian repeatedly stated that the ultimate aim of the Karabakh settlement is the reunification of the two Armenian states,” said Soghomonian. “He who forgets this aim deludes himself and the people and jeopardizes Karabakh.”
“The real extent of the NKR’s integration with Armenia is now close to the confederate model, and we have complete integration in terms of security,” added the ex-president’s spokesman.
The remarks appeared to be an indirect attack on President Sarkisian as well. Kocharian has increasingly criticized the current Armenian government in recent months, stoking speculation about his intention to return to active politics.