Sarkisian blamed the current Armenian government for recent months’ friction between the two countries.
“I’ve never been pro-Russian and never will be, but I continue believe that the Russian Federation is our best ally because there is no alternative,” he told journalists.
“Will NATO set up a base here?” he said. “Will any European country have a [military] contingent in Karabakh? You know very well that I have never been anti-European. My rebuke is directed not at NATO or the European Union but at those adventurists who are trying, for some reason, to mess up everything here.”
Armenia’s traditionally close relationship with Russia has soured lately because of what Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s administration sees as a lack of Russian support in the continuing conflict with Azerbaijan. Yerevan has also accused Russian peacekeepers of doing little to lift the Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin corridor.
Moscow has denied that. It has also rejected Pashinian’s recent claim that the Russian military presence in Armenia may be putting the South Caucasus country’s security and territorial integrity at greater risk.
These tensions have fuelled speculation about a pro-Western change in Armenia’s geopolitical orientation planned by Pashinian. Armenia’s leading opposition groups are against such a policy change. One of them, the Pativ Unem bloc, is led by Sarkisian.
The ex-president, who ruled the country from 2008-2018, spoke to the press during the presentation of his new book containing a collection of his past speeches and statements on the Karabakh conflict.
Sarkisian again blamed the current government for Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 war with Azerbaijan and reiterated opposition allegations that the Armenian side will suffer more military and diplomatic losses if Pashinian remains in power. He claimed that Pashinian is too incompetent to be taken seriously by Azerbaijan or even international mediators.