By Mark Dovich
On Monday, an Armenian newspaper closely connected with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan published what it said were “Azerbaijan’s five main demands from Armenia” in ongoing peace negotiations, citing an unnamed “credible source.”
The paper, the Armenian Times, is edited by Anna Hakobyan, Pashinyan’s wife.
The first three demands are disbanding the Karabakh Defense Army, having Armenia recognize Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan without autonomy, and forcing Armenia to set up a corridor from mainland Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan.
The other two demands are “delimiting and demarcating borders based on maps from 1919 and 1920” and “clarifying the fate of missing Azerbaijanis, possibly with an aim to accuse Armenia of war crimes in the future.”
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and other senior officials have publicly made all those points in some form or another, but their publication by the Armenian Times still represents a dramatic and unexpected turn of events.
At the end of the list, the paper included a note saying that “this publication can also be considered a response to (former President) Levon Ter-Petrossian’s claim that they do not have complete information about the negotiation process.”
The note does not explicitly say who “they” are, but the article’s title — “for the information of the catholicos, the three (former) presidents, and the expert community” — makes the intended audience clear.
Ter-Petrossian accused Pashinyan of withholding key details about Armenia’s peace negotiations with Azerbaijan in a widely publicized interview last week.
“We have no information about the ongoing (negotiation) processes. Only Pashinyan has that information, (only he) knows what Russia offers, what Turkey offers, what the United States advises,” Ter-Petrossian said. “We need to have that information, and the only person who has (that information) is Pashinyan.”
Days earlier, Ter-Petrossian, alongside fellow ex-Presidents Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan met with Catholicos Karekin II, the head of the Armenian church, to discuss “the situation Armenia finds itself in.”
Afterward, Ter-Petrossian warned that “difficult, painful solutions await” Armenia in peace talks with Azerbaijan, adding, “We even extend our hands out to Pashinyan, together we will choose the least painful option.”
Though it was not explicitly clear who Ter-Petrossian meant by “we,” his comments were widely interpreted to include himself, Kocharyan, and Sargsyan.
Responding to the paper’s decision to publish the list of Azerbaijan’s alleged demands, Ter-Petrossian said Monday it represented “essentially a negative response to proposals to start a dialogue between the opposition and government.”