Pro-government lawmakers have vehemently criticized Robert Kocharian over his article published on a Kremlin-funded news agency’s website in which the former president described Armenia’s current leadership as “pro-Western” and predicted “bad scenarios” for the country.
“Is a divided Armenia ready for bad scenarios?” queried Kocharian in his article published on Sputnik-Armenia on November 8.
Kocharian, who is being tried on coup and bribery charges and is currently in prison, also accuses the government of Nikol Pashinian of weakening Armenian positions in Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks and committing gross mistakes. He warns of a new possible war with Azerbaijan that will entail “devastating consequences incomparably graver than ever before.”
“We have seen bad scenarios during Robert Kocharian’s presidency,” Andranik Kocharian [no relation], a member of the My Step parliamentary faction and head of the parliament committee on defense and security, said, reacting to Robert Kocharian’s article on Friday. “It would be better if Robert Kocharian at some point in his life started to talk about good scenarios… We want the new Armenia to go ahead with good scenarios and achieve strength that will enable it to always have good scenarios.”
“If he [Robert Kocharian] thinks that Armenia is moving along just one vector, he couldn’t be more wrong. Armenia and its security system are moving in the direction that only adds to their capabilities and never reduces them for sure,” Andranik Kocharian added.
In his article Robert Kocharian, in particular, accuses Pashinian of effectively nullifying the agreements on strengthening ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone achieved with Azerbaijan by the previous administration of President Serzh Sarkisian following a brief escalation of fighting in 2016. He also claims “complicated relations” between the ruling elites in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and blunders committed by Armenia’s leadership in this regard.
“The prime minister’s statement that ‘Karabakh is Armenia, full stop!” has shifted the negotiations away from the principle of self-determination of peoples onto a plane of territorial integrity of nations, which is undesirable for us,” Robert Kocharian writes.
“I think that Robert Kocharian should first of all answer when the Meghri issue originated. At that time, we were heading down a very dangerous path. Thank God, we managed to steer clear of that trap,” said Andranik Kocharian, referring to an alleged plan for a territorial exchange between Armenia and Azerbaijan as part of a broader Karabakh solution ostensibly discussed during Robert Kocharian’s presidency.
Another My Step lawmaker Ruben Rubinian, who heads the parliament’s foreign relations committee, said that in his article Robert Kocharian uses talking points of Azerbaijan. “It can be described as trouble-making,” he said. “I don’t think that any Armenian politician, especially a person who formerly occupied the post of the president, could bring forth such pro-Azerbaijani arguments,” he said.
Rubinian also rejected Kocharian’s claims that Armenia has a divided society today. “We saw people’s unity during the 2018 Velvet Revolution. We saw people’s unity during the 2018 December [snap parliamentary] elections. We’ve seen this unity also between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.
In his article Kocharian also accuses Pashinian of having a “pro-Western” orientation. The former president notes that among those that support Pashinian are also political groups that call for the withdrawal of the Russian military base from Armenia. He claims that in Armenia today there are many government officials and pro-government members of parliament who espouse pro-Western views.
Rubinian dismissed this claim as ridiculous. “We are against the idea of being ‘pro-someone’. We stand only for the interests of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.
My Step’s lawmaker Gayane Arakelian, for her part, argued that the goal of Kocharian’s article was to derail Armenian-Russian relations. The parliamentarian who sits on the European integration committee said: “Clearly this is a message to Russia that pursues certain goals. I say that Kocharian will never stop at anything. Even if with each such message he deeply harms Armenian-Russian relations, he will never have repugnance to do so. He will resort to anything possible even at the cost of the state and statehood, even at the cost of the country’s sovereignty,” Arakelian said.