Levon Zurabian, the deputy chairman of Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) party, insisted that Pashinian could have stopped the war earlier and with fewer Armenian territorial losses had he agreed to Russia’s initial peace proposals.
“Nikol Pashinian himself admits that there was such an opportunity,” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Nikol Pashinian himself says that with every military setback the [Russian] plan changed for the worse … but he continued to resist, to persist.”
“This primarily resulted from the fact that Nikol Pashinian has an insatiable and morbid vanity and is absolutely ignorant about international relations, geopolitics and military affairs,” he charged.
Zurabian also said that weeks before a Russian-mediated agreement stopped the war on November 10 Pashinian did not authorize Ter-Petrosian to try to negotiate in Moscow a better peace deal.
“He said: ‘You can go [to Moscow] but I’m not giving you such authorization. He thus showed his irresponsible penchant for living in his own dreams detached from reality,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Pashinian would have prevented significant Armenian territorial losses in Karabakh had he accepted Azerbaijan’s terms of a ceasefire set three weeks before the end of the war. Putin claimed that the Armenian side would have specifically retained control of Shushi (Shusha), Karabakh’s second largest town.
Two senior lawmakers representing Pashinian’s My Step bloc confirmed on Thursday that Putin offered Yerevan a different truce accord on October 20. They said it was not accepted because Armenia’s and Karabakh’s leaders still hoped to achieve a “turnaround” in the war.
“No serious military expert, including the chief of our army’s General Staff, gave [Pashinian] information indicating that it is possible to achieve a turnaround in the war,” countered Zurabian.
“[Pashinian] never realized that the main mission of a statesman is to calculate resources [at their disposal] and to build a realistic strategy based on those resources,” he said. “In essence, he put aside all that and relied only on the so-called ‘spirit.’ This is the greatest crime.”
Ter-Petrosian, who had ruled Armenia from 1991-1998, has long advocated a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict involving major territorial concessions to Azerbaijan. He too has been critical of Pashinian’s Karabakh policy and the handling of the war. But his party has not joined more than a dozen other Armenian opposition groups in holding demonstrations in Yerevan and demanding Pashinian’s resignation.
Ter-Petrosian’s spokesman, Arman Musinian, said on Friday that the 75-year-old ex-president does not want to tell “the whole truth about the disaster inflicted on the Armenian people” now because that would only deepen political tensions in the country.
“It is imperative at the moment to stabilize the political situation in Armenia and Artsakh (Karabakh), and both the authorities and the opposition are responsible for that,” Musinian wrote on Facebook.