Kocharyan says he draws ‘different conclusions’ than Ter-Petrossian on Azerbaijan talks

robert kocharyan

By Mark Dovich

Former President Robert Kocharyan said at a press conference Wednesday he agrees with former President Levon Ter-Petrossian that Armenia’s “situation is grave,” but said he and his predecessor draw “different conclusions” on approaching peace talks with Azerbaijan.

“I agree with the first president (Ter-Petrossian) that the situation is extremely complicated. It’s just that our conclusions are different,” Kocharyan said. “He believes that everything is so difficult that you need to accept the lesser of the evils. I think that everything is so difficult that you need to unite all your forces and, fighting, open new doors.”

Kocharyan continued: “Yes, the situation is grave, and yes, there are many problems, but this does not mean that we, given this situation, should simply give up and give in to the coercion that is being imposed on Armenia today. I do not share this assessment.”

Kocharyan was referring to widely publicized remarks by Ter-Petrossian, who warned in an interview Monday that “difficult, painful solutions await us.”

“Agreements should be signed with both Azerbaijan and Turkey. It will not be to anyone’s taste, but there comes a moment when there is no alternative,” Ter-Petrossian said. “Most of the opposition believes that, if we can get rid of (Prime Minister Nikol) Pashinyan, then we can avoid painful solutions. This is naivety. Whoever comes to power next will have to sign the same document, or maybe even a worse one.”

Kocharyan, Sargsyan, and Ter-Petrossian discussed “the situation Armenia finds itself in” at a meeting last week organized by Catholicos Karekin II, alongside two former Karabakh leaders.

Kocharyan told reporters Wednesday that “we have agreed that we will not reveal the details of those discussions,” while adding that “there was an offer to keep the door open to continue the work.” He did not elaborate further.

Turning to the current state of talks between Yerevan and Baku, Kocharyan noted that “the topic of Artsakh (Karabakh) is completely absent in the negotiation process,” saying, “this indicates that we have a most serious problem.”

“We are talking about the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict was over Karabakh, so I have no idea how relations can be normalized without the certainty that the Karabakh issue will be settled and a common understanding of that,” he said.

Continuing, Kocharyan called for the election of a national unity government in Yerevan, but conceded that only the ruling Civil Contract party has the power to force Pashinyan out.

“That initiative should not come from us, but from the political majority, if they realize the depth of the complexity of the situation,” he said, adding that he does not foresee a protest movement emerging to topple Pashinyan that could compare to the 2018 revolution that put Pashinyan in office.

“That would mean tens of thousands of people surrounding the parliament building and forcing the parliamentary majority to choose their (the people’s) candidate. Today, the opposition does not have that opportunity,” Kocharyan said. “We saw that there is no such opportunity yet. Yes, there may be an opportunity tomorrow, but there is none today.”
Finally, Kocharyan called for increased military cooperation between Armenia and Iran, while saying it would be “absurd” to expect Russia or the Collective Security Treaty Organization to intervene militarily in the region. That is notably strong and forthright language from Kocharyan, who is widely considered one of Armenia’s most pro-Russian political figures.