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Kocharian Rules Out Support For Pashinian


Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian at a news conference in Yerevan, September 28, 2022.

Former President Robert Kocharian on Wednesday dismissed his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian’s calls for the Armenian opposition to rally around Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and help him sign an unpopular peace deal with Azerbaijan.

Kocharian, who leads the main opposition Hayastan alliance, insisted that Pashinian must resign because he remains incapable of dealing with grave security challenges facing Armenia.

“In order to solve a problem, you must first diagnose that problem and then neutralize it,” he told a news conference. “We are now told to unite around a problem. But what is our goal? To save Armenia or to save Armenia’s problem?”

“Regime change is imperative,” he stressed.

Ter-Petrosian, who had served as the country’s first president from 1991-1998, declared on Monday that the opposition forces must agree to share with Pashinian responsibility for “painful solutions” to the conflicts with Azerbaijan and Turkey. He claimed that Armenia will have to make even greater concessions if it rejects such a settlement now.

Echoing statements by his political allies, Kocharian said Ter-Petrosian essentially wants Armenia to capitulate to its arch-foes without a fight. “You don’t need consolidation for capitulation,” he scoffed.

“In general, it’s the governments, not the opposition, that get countries out of crises,” Kocharian went on. “In times of crisis, the opposition can raise the issue of regime change and, if it’s strong enough, achieve regime change and then overcome the crisis.”

Armenia - Former President Serzh Sarkisian.
Armenia - Former President Serzh Sarkisian.

Armenia’s second parliamentary opposition force led by another ex-president, Serzh Sarkisian, has also rejected Ter-Petrosian’s appeals. Like senior Hayastan figures, some of its members have accused Ter-Petrosian of helping Pashinian, his erstwhile protégé, cling to power.

Ter-Petrosian, whose own party has held no parliament seats since 2017, is understood to have called for opposition support for Pashinian at a rare meeting with Kocharian and Sarkisian hosted by Catholicos Garegin II on September 22. It is not clear whether they will meet again anytime soon. Kocharian indicated that he is open to further discussions with Ter-Petrosian despite their major differences.

The ex-presidents’ meeting came a week after large-scale fighting on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijani left more than 200 Armenian soldiers dead. The Armenian side also suffered territorial losses during the two-day hostilities halted on September 14.

Kocharian said the heavy casualties show that Pashinian’s administration has not rebuilt the Armenian army and significantly fortified its border posts since Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. The authorities, he said, “have failed to draw any lessons from the 44-day war.”

“Azerbaijan started the [September 13-14 border] war not because it got much stronger but because it knew full well that we got much weaker,” added the ex-president.

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