Pashinian said last week that Ter-Petrosian told him to “surrender lands” to Azerbaijan when they met in July 2018. He made the claim when he spoke in the Armenian parliament and blamed his predecessors for Armenia’s defeat in last year’s Karabakh war.
“That is a complete lie,” Levon Zurabian, the deputy chairman of Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK), told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service at the weekend.
“This ability by Armenia’s leader to lie poses a threat to our national security because he resorts to the same practice not only in internal politics but also in foreign relations,” he said, commenting on Pashinian’s claim. “In a sense, the disastrous consequences which we have had in diplomacy and during the war are also to do with his untrustworthiness, inability to reach agreements and broader systemic flaws of his rule.”
Zurabian insisted that Ter-Petrosian said “totally different things” at the 2018 meeting held two months after the “velvet revolution” that brought Pashinian to power. He said the ex-president, who had governed Armenia from 1991-1998, simply reaffirmed his strong support for a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict which had first been proposed by international mediators in 1997.
That peace plan called for Armenian withdrawal from virtually all districts around Karabakh. The disputed territory itself would remain under Armenian control until an Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement on its internationally recognized status.
A Russian-brokered deal which stopped the second Karabakh war on November 10 offered less favorable terms to the Armenian side, reflecting sweeping territorial made by Azerbaijani force during the six-week hostilities.
Weeks before the ceasefire Ter-Petrosian and another former president, Robert Kocharian, offered to travel to Moscow for urgent talks with Russian leaders. Pashinian reportedly refused to authorize them to negotiate on behalf of his administration.
In late November, Pashinian questioned the sincerity and seriousness of the ex-presidents’ initiative, prompting angry reactions from them. A spokesman for Ter-Petrosian described the prime minister as a “nation-destroying scourge” who will never be forgiven by the Armenian people.
Like other opposition groups, Ter-Petrosian’s HAK has blamed Pashinian for Azerbaijan’s victory. Zurabian insisted in November that Pashinian could have stopped the war earlier and with fewer Armenian territorial losses but did not do that because of his “insatiable vanity.”