Representatives of Armenia’s two main opposition groups led by Kocharian and Sarkisian said Pashinian is simply trying to justify his readiness to help restore Azerbaijani control of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Speaking in the Armenian parliament on Wednesday, Pashinian said he is pressing ahead with a peace treaty with Azerbaijan that will call for mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity. He did not deny that this would mean upholding Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The embattled premier claimed that former Kocharian’s administration had already recognized Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan in 1999. He pointed to a multilateral declaration signed by Armenia at an OSCE summit held in Istanbul at the time.
Agnesa Khamoyan, a senior member of Kocharian’s Hayastan alliance, shrugged off the claim. She said the Istanbul declaration said nothing about Karabakh’s return to Azerbaijani rule.
“I think that every sensible citizen understands very well that any of the peace proposals made [by international mediators] in the last 30 years would, if implemented, be much better for us than what we have now as a result of Nikol Pashinian’s ineptness and incompetence,” Khamoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Some of those peace plans were jointly drafted by the United States, France and Russia during Sarkisian’s rule in 2008-2018. They were modified versions of the mediators’ so-called Madrid Principles of a Karabakh settlement. That proposed framework accord upheld the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination while calling for their withdrawal from Azerbaijani districts around Karabakh occupied in the early 1990s.
Pashinian charged on Wednesday that Sarkisian was presented with a “capitulation document” and was ready to sign it.
Armen Ashotian, the deputy chairman of Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK), countered that Pashinian himself cited and stressed the importance of key elements of the Madrid Principles in early 2020.
“After all that he comes out and uses the National Assembly podium to brainwash a section of our people still believing in his lies, falsehoods and manipulations to justify why Nikol Pashinian is handing over Artsakh (Karabakh) to Azerbaijan,” said Ashotian.
Pashinian has repeatedly criticized the Madrid Principles since the 2020 war in Karabakh. In particular, he claimed in 2021 that the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group sought a “surrender of lands” to Azerbaijan and offered the Armenian side nothing in return.
The Russian Foreign Ministry bluntly denied the claim. It said the proposed deal stipulated that Karabakh’s internationally recognized status would be determined through a future referendum and envisaged firm security guarantees for its population.
Pashinian has also blamed Sarkisian and Kocharian for Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. Hayastan, the HHK and other major opposition groups hold him responsible for its outcome.