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Former Armenian Presidents Hit Back At Pashinian


Armenia -- Former Presidents Levon Ter-Petrosian (L) and Robert Kocharian.

Former Presidents Levon Ter-Petrosian and Robert Kocharian accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Monday of blatantly lying about their offers to negotiate with Russia and try to stop the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinian hit out at them in a series of Facebook posts that defended his handling of the war which resulted in sweeping territorial gains made by Azerbaijan.

Amid continuing opposition calls for his resignation, the embattled premier claimed on Sunday that Ter-Petrosian, Kocharian and another former president, Serzh Sarkisian, objected on October 19 to key terms of a ceasefire agreement which Moscow thought would stop the hostilities.

In another statement posted on Monday morning, he questioned the sincerity and seriousness of Kocharian’s and Ter-Petrosian’s stated readiness to fly to Moscow, as Armenia’s “special envoys,” for urgent talks with Russian leaders.

Pashinian said they wanted him to arrange a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin or Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He said he suggested that they talk instead to former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and try to organize unofficial “courtesy meetings” with Putin, Lavrov or other senior Russian officials.

Pashinian added that the two ex-presidents did not travel to Moscow even after he helped Kocharian secure a court order allowing the latter to leave Armenia. Kocharian has been standing trial on coup charges rejected by him as politically motivated.

Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian greets supporters during his trial, Yerevan, February 25, 2020.
Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian greets supporters during his trial, Yerevan, February 25, 2020.

Victor Soghomonian, the head of Kocharian’s office, swiftly denied Pashinian’s claims. “Lies and distortions are inseparable from Nikol,” he said.

Ter-Petrosian issued an even more scathing denial through his spokesman, Arman Musinian.

“President Ter-Petrosian finds it meaningless to comment on the nation-destroying scourge’s mental torments,” Musinian wrote on his Facebook page. “Let him blurt out whatever he wants. There is no way he can make excuses.”

“The Armenian people will never forgive him,” Musinian added, alluding to the outcome of the six-week war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10.

The ceasefire agreement locked in the Azerbaijani territorial gains and led to Armenian withdrawal from three more districts around Karabakh.

Levon Zurabian, Ter-Petrosian’s right-hand man, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on November 20 that Pashinian did not give the ex-president a “mandate” to negotiate in Moscow a better peace deal in October.

Armenia - Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian at his election campaign headquarters in Yerevan, 2Apr2017.
Armenia - Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian at his election campaign headquarters in Yerevan, 2Apr2017.

Echoing statements by other opposition leaders, Zurabian also blamed Pashinian for the military defeat. “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.

Ter-Petrosian and Kocharian reportedly met October 20 for the first time in over two decades. They were joined by Sarkisian and two former Karabakh presidents. The meeting was noteworthy given the long history of mutual antagonism between Ter-Petrosian on one side and Kocharian and Sarkisian on the other.

Ter-Petrosian, who had served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, ran in a disputed 2008 presidential election in an unsuccessful bid to prevent the handover of power from Kocharian to Sarkisian.

Pashinian played a major role in Ter-Petrosian’s 2008 opposition movement and spent nearly two years in prison as a result. He subsequently fell out with the ex-president and set up his own party.

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