Armenia ex-president Serzh Sargsyan gives exclusive interview (video)Support A1+!
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THIRD PRESIDENT OF ARMENIA SERZH SARGSYAN ABOUT NAGORNO KARABAKH NEGOTIATION PROCESS
Good evening. Third President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan has kindly accepted my invitation and we will talk about the negotiaton process for the conflict resolution in Artsakh.
Hello, Mr President. Thank you for accepting my invitation and for this opportunity.
A moment ago we were watching with you a short video narrating the main features of the negotiation process during ten years of your tenure in office. The video presented the historical timeline of summits at the Presidential level and meetings between the Foreign Ministers, the key milestones and main negotiated documents. You, as well as the co-chairs upon necessity, have made all this public in the past.
A few days ago the Prime Minister said that there was no any information pertaining to the settlement in Artsakh which you would know and he would not. He claimed the entire relevant information has been put on his table since 2018.
On the other hand, the allegations about what you have negotiated during those ten years in office and what you argue was your legacy as negotiation portfolio left to the incumbent Prime Minister, are diametrically different.
How could that be the case?
You know, I could consider it below my sense of dignity and skip touching upon all those speeches and interviews during the past 1.5 months, which had been full of complete lies, fabrications, inaccuracies and manipulations. But there are two things that made me accept your invitation. First among those is that the presumptuous expression, which we all heard, claiming he possesses the full-scale information regarding the negotiations and the negotiation process itself, is a complete lie. It’s a lie, because it is impossible just to read the documents and be fully aware of the negotiation process. It’s impossible just by reading a paper. I would just say that even I cannot claim that I was aware of absolutely all the outstanding details, because except the negotiations that I was in, there was also Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan who was preparing those negotiations and steering the pre-negotiation phase. This is a very important aspect to mention.
This begs a question. When we came to power, how did it happen that from the very outset we, in our opinion, continued going in the right direction? That’s because we – that means not only myself, but also Edward Nalbandyan – not just for hours, not just for days or months, but for years really were discussing the relevant questions with those people who were fully aware of all the previous phases of the process.
And there is one other factor that influenced my decision. If they are so presumptuous to declare that they have had complete information at their disposal, how did it happen that in 2019 they were trapped down? I mean when they were offered a new – I’ll put it this way – a new document and they accepted that document as a basis for negotiations, for a full year they were lying to the Armenian society, but not only Armenian society, suggesting that there was no any negotiation process.
Until Lavrov declassified that…
Correct. But before this declassification by Lavrov, we were voicing alarm, we were saying that there were negotiations, that there were new proposals, since without all that what would the Foreign Minister be speaking with his Azerbaijani counterpart? At the end of the day they were embarrassed before the whole world, right when – as you noted – Foreign Minister Lavrov uncovered that entire process.
Mr President, you are right that the documents at the end of the day were the end result, i.e. the parties normally negotiate for extended periods and then agree to put on paper the compromise option, paragraph by paragraph. In that sense, it’s difficult to know everything about the process that led to previously negotiationed documents, but the result is
And yes, in that sense it is difficult to master the process of previously negotiated documents, but the outcome is before our own eyes. When you are saying that just by reading a document it’s impossible to know everything about the realities of negotiations, you can be blamed – and you are in fact being blamed – for certain verbal agreements. And the Prime Minister claimed in his latest Facebook press conference, that certain promises had been made by you personally and that in 2018-2019 it was the time to fulfill those promises which were not reflected in any of the documents.
Davit, I have to try to correct you and say that he has not said all that directly. True to his style, he has made an allusion to that, which he can renounce every other second.
I can say the following: absolutely no any verbal promise has been made. It has never been our workstyle – to yield something in accordance with verbal arrangements, be that something tangible or not.
But let me continue speaking about the first aspect and tell you that when I was listening to the portions about Artsakh in that interview, it was astonishing to hear some so-called “arguments”, which I heard in 2008, 2009 and 2010 from the President of Azerbaijan. It would seem to me at certain moments – to be ver honest with you – that it was Azerbaijani President speaking, not Armenia’s governor. It was very painful, because he no longer could use those objective arguments that would give us good chances to achieve a status for Artsakh, as if he tries to put forward those arguments tomorrow, he will be reminded of his own words used.
Mr President, I can guess what arguments you mean. I have those grouped and will ask you to touch upon each of those in a nutshell.
Just let me mention about the second aspect too. Secondly, I have come to observe that among certain political forces in Armenia and many intelligent people there is a sense of disillusionment. There is a certain atmosphere of disappointment. And the allegations of those – I mean both the incumbent authorities here and those in Azerbaijan – that the Nagorno Karabakh issue is resolved, has in some ways affected these people. I have come on air to declare once again that Artsakh will never be part of Azerbaijan. And for that – despite the calamitous war, despite the capitulation – there are still opportunities to be seized.
You have always said that Nagorno Karabakh will never be part of Azerbaijan. In your latest party congress you said that Artsakh will always remain Armenian, and the governing party has attempted to fish for some verbal nuances in your statement.
But is there any difference? I mean – what does “only Armenian” mean, can you explain?
That Armenian Artsakh can not be part of Azerbaijan.
Of course, it cannot. Maybe I am rushing it and answering some questions that you have not yet asked, including some of his so-called ‘arguments’, such as - what would happen if there were elections held and Azeris elected… What are we? Some fascists? Are we racists to argue that the parliament of Artsakh has to be made up of only Armenians? If it consists of not only Armenians, how does it mean it’s no more Armenian? Are there only Armenians elected in the Armenian National Assembly today? What does it all mean? If this is yet another manipulation, it’s a failed one. If this is – what can I say – an issue about lack of knowledge, then it’s ridiculous. What I am saying is, of course, also a message to the international community, because the very same co-chairmen, even after the disastrous war still were speaking about the basic principles.
But it’s been a while since they did that last.
It’s been a while, because no one is speaking about that any more. Have you come across any clear answer by the incumbent Armenian officials about the future of the Karabakh issue? The most they do is making references to their government program adopted still before or maybe after the war. Why is that the case? Are they shy? Are they afraid? Or, as they say, they have some verbal agreements that impede making such statements?
Mr President, I would like to ask you react on a few arguments that were voiced by the Prime Minister in the course of the past few press conferences. First, the Prime Minister spoke a few times about a certain radical turning-point in the Nagorno Karabakh negotiation process in 2016. In every fitting occasion he labeled that ‘a catastrophe’. What happened after the April war and – I quote his claims -- at that time Karabakh has lost every practical and theoretical chances of ever being outside of Azerbaijan. I would like to unequivocally clarify with you: in order to stop the war as soon as possible, in four days, or in the bilateral negotiations afterwards, or those under the auspices and with the participation of the co-chairs, has there been any concession forced onto Armenian side with regards to the interim or final status of Nagorno Karabakh; and has the Armenian side agreed to any such concession, I mean have we traded over that issue at all? The Prime Minister alleges that indeed, in 2016 it was the Armenian side that backpedalled on the status of Nagorno Karabakh.
Absolutely, there have been absolutely no pressure or no any concession, no written or verbal agreement or arrangement, and I have spoken about that. When I was speaking about the April war and when there was the Commission of Inquiry etc, I had very openly said that there had been only a verbal agreement to stop the war, while they were claiming that maybe there had been some written document, or some concession etc.
The Azeris were suggesting to sign a new ceasefire agreement, which you were against…
Absolutely. We had not agreed to any new document or any verbal agreement. That had been confirmed by the co-chairmen, when they publicly stated that there was no new document and that the trilateral agreement signed in 1994 remained in force.
So, the price for stopping the war was neither relinquishing any of the principles, nor any of the elements.
What regards to the 2016 document, if you noticed, inbetween the lines there he was speaking about some letters and what not, and would not clearly say exactly what proposals were made by the co-chairmen in 2016, when those proposals were tabled, etc.
Indeed, in 2016 – that is after the April war – we did receive some proposals by the co-chairmen. And those proposals in no ways violated the red lines that we had always had. Let me reiterate again, that those red lines were the following: first – self-determination of Nagorno Karabakh, second – land border between Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, third – recognition of Nagorno Karabakh authorities by the international community as legitimately elected officials, and many other such [features] that was [in entirety] called interim status. In one place it was called Nagorno Karabakh interim status, in other file it was called temporary status, somewhere else it was called recognised status. And fourth – something that was based on or was uniting the preceding three aspects in one – was the security guarantees. In our opinion the most important security guarantee was [Nagorno Karabakh’s] independence and it was the opportunity to influence all processes in a legitimate manner – be those security issues or others.
There was no reservation regarding any of these four elements.
Plus the necessity of introduction of moniting mechanisms was also added…
No, it was formulated slightly differently there, since there would be no need in monitoring given the peacekeeping forces were going to be dispatched to be lined up between two conflicting sides.
I rather meant, Mr President, the parties had such obligation before conflict resolution to make room for a monitoring mission.
That was in the form of statements in Vienna and St Petersburg in 2016, which of course was quite advantageous for the Armenian party, but none of that was any solution to the problem. That was very specific means which would exclude future hostilities.
Until a resolution was found?
Yes, until some resolution was found.
Pertaining to the UN Security Council, which to my bemusement is called ‘a catastrophe’, I have to say that it has always been the perception that a UN Security Council resolution [would be necessary]. If someone, who wants to speak about this topic, got detailed understanding of the Kazan document, they would see that the document, or that declaration, had it been accepted, it would need to be approved by the UN Security Council, since it included certain provisions that are generally within the powers of the UN, while the OSCE and moreover its Minsk Group, would not have been in the position of adopting such decisions.
Do you mean that a UN Security Council resolution was being spoken about even before the April war?
This idea or such a concept was featured in all of the documents. It was not inscribed in any of the documents that exactly that one has to be sent to the UN Security Council. Why am I putting it this way? Because in 2016 we were offered a docket with three different documents in it. I have already spoken about this in other occasions: one was meant to be a Declaration between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The second one was to be a joint statement adopted by the Foreign Ministers of the co-chairing countries, which had to include certain elements that were not acceptable for Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani President did not want those to be part of the bilateral document; and third document was a draft UN Security Council resolution which was wrapping up or was interweaving the other two documents and was also adding some other provisions on its own behalf.
Now look, Mr President – the Prime Minister is saying something exactly opposite. He says that it was after the April war that this issue was delegated to the UN Security Council and links it to that disaster in 2016. Moreover, he reminds about the four UN Security Council resolutins adopted in 1993 which included some anti-Armenian wordings, and raises an issue by suggesting the new UNSC resolution could declare the territory of Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast belonging to Azerbaijan.
Now exactly what you are saying confirms the fact that this man does not understand the negotiation process and not only misses the details of the negotiation process, but is clueless about its essence. First, what do the UNSC resolutions of 1993 have to do with this? Those were about a completely different issue. All those resolutions adopted in 1993 were calling for cessation of armed hostilities. Those were meant to decide neither on the status, nor anything else for that matter.
And the claim that the [new] UN Security Council resolution would not be adopted raises a question: exactly what line of argumentation does he rely on to yield such a conclusion?
The four precedences of the 1993…
But I am saying those had nothing to do with this particular matter.
He cites those…
But that has nothing to do with this matter. I am saying that the [new] UN Security Council resolution would no doubt be adopted, based on the fact three out of five Permanent Members of the Security Council – United States, Russia and France – were those proposing the draft.
Can you at all imagine a situation when, if I must repeat myself, three out of five Permanent Members (United States, Russia and France) table a draft resolution, and even if [it were not adopted] – what would happen? Even if they decided to go to extreme measure and one of the Permanent Members used the veto power, what would we lose? The co-chairs simply could not make certain proposals and then in the course of their discussions turn 180 degrees and suddenly adopt a different decision? That’s impossible.
That means, had that happened the international community would be responsible for the lack of resolution.
Not the international community as a whole, but a particular member of the international community would be responsible for the lack of resolution. But that simply could not happen.
This [document] was not ‘a catastrophe’. For us that was, of course, not the document of our dreams, neither the Kazan document was the embodiment of our dreams, but it was an acceptable document for us. It was an implementable one on the ground too. That is obvious.
We will talk about the Kazan document later where I will both remind about certain episodes, including from one of your previous interviews where you explained the details of the content of that document, as well as from one press conference of the Prime Minister, where he speaks about the legacy you left in the negotiations, followed by a readout of certain paragraphs from the Kazan document. But before all that I have to remind one other episode, Mr President.
I am sure you can recall that before the war the Prime Minister had continuously spoken about the perceptions of the Madrid Principles both in Armenian and Azerbaijani sides, and had continuously pointed at the differences in perceptions, adding that Aliyev and official Yerevan interpreted the Madrid Principles in diametrically different ways. On April 7, 2019 at the 12th snap congress of the Yerkrapah Volunteers Union, right two weeks after his meeting with Aliyev in Vienna he spoke about the perceptions of the Madrid Principles. I suggest to remind ourselves of that episode and then continue our talk.
It turns out that it was the first time that offical Yerevan spoke about the fact that the Madrid Principles could potentially also be unacceptable for us: depending on how the Azerbaijani side interpreted them, we would decide whether those were acceptable for us or not. We should also remind ourselves of the joint statements by the heads of co-chair countries since L’Aquila Summit in 2009, where for us, I mean for the society, the principles and elements were declassified for the first time. That means we were officially informed what the leaders of our states were negotiating about. Thus, we know about the principles and elements, Mr President. But the Prime Minister says that the interpretations of those were very different. Meaning – Yerevan says something, and Baku says something else. Maybe that was the reason, why he officially and on the highest level had expressed doubts in the applicability of the Madrid Principles at all? Maybe it was worth to do that and demonstrate that Yerevan could not negotiate on the basis of certain principles which Baku had been interpreting in a diametrically opposite way?
But was there anyone who believed that the opinions of Armenian and Azerbaijani sides should coincide? I mean – did he think that way? This address is an example that testifies to the fact that at least till that address this man did not grasp, he did not understand what was happening. You should go to negotiations, if I can put it that way, not to demand explanations from either negotiating parties or mediators, but you go to negotiations in order to implement your vision. You have to express clearly what you want from those negotiations. You should not go and tell them what is it that you propose? What they proposed was very clear. They were saying that the issue has to be resolved on the basis of mutual compromises, that the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast should get a status, i.e. cannot be part of Azerbaijan. But let me paraphrase this better. I did not mean to say “cannot be”, it was not the [mediators] wording, but it was presumed that when a referendum is held, it was obvious that the outcome of it would be clear. They said that the conflict cannot be resolved by force. They said that peacekeepers would be dispatched before we matured, before the referendum was held. Everything was very clear. What other explanations were needed? Where an extra explanation was owed? I did not go to Kazan to demand explanations from Aliyev, did I? Did I go to Kazan to ask the co-chairs what was it that they proposed? How could such an attitude be expressed? Just how? I really fail to understand…
Well, he wanted more clarity, Mr President.
In addition, he was also showing poor attitude against the co-chairs, as if saying – what a poor proposal you came up with? If something is not in our interests, come up with something new.
Well, something new was tabled in 2019.
The whole problem is that, indeed, no document was approved in Kazan. A declaration should have been adopted there, i.e. declared without signing, since the main document was going to be the bilateral, interstate agreement, which was the comprehensive treaty about the peaceful resolution of Nagorno Karabakh issue, which would include everything relevant.
So, was it going to be a peace treaty?
That was the treaty about the peaceful resolution of Artsakh issue.
Concluded between two parties?
Exactly. Moreover, with the participation of the representative of Nagorno Karabakh. It was very clearly written.
When would the participation of Karabakh representative be resumed?
Exactly when we started the negotiations about the agreement.
That means the representative of Artsakh would partake in that?
Definitely had to participate.
This is a very important episode.
This aspect was included in all of the documents, including the one this man regards as ‘a catastrophe’. Those documents, of course, I am hesitating to make public. Neither I have ever promised to publish. But indeed, in some off-the-record conversations I have said that I was speaking, was negotiating with the co-chairs to request their permission to somewhat publish those pieces.
He has made it public, Mr President. In January 2020 in Kapan he published that document.
No, he publicized another document, but did not ‘publish’ in Kapan as such. They leaked it to one of the websites, which published the text and then he read it outloud in Kapan. That document, or better to call it ‘a proposal’, was presented to the parties not in 2016, but in 2018 – if I recall it right -- either in January or February. I mean, if this person speaks about some catastrophe, if at all, there was a new proposal.
You probably mean the meeting between Foreign Ministers in Krakow in 2018.
Yes, exactly that one. For which [that leak], of course, these people were reproached, since the maintenance of confidentiality was a must and that was upon the negotiating parties.
That’s the reason, why this man publicly says “if there are any documents, let them publish”. I do not want the co-chairmen to change their opinion and snub us too for any leaks.
Well, you are no more the negotiator, Mr President. Maybe this time you decide to act on that temptation?
I am no more, but I have been a negotiator, right? I have been a partner for those people. I would say – a trusted partner. Is it worth to do that now?
Indeed, I have all the papers, all the proposals by the co-chairs in my disposal. But without coordination – I do not think that it is a good idea. When there is an extreme necessity, I will do that. But since he has that experience already, I would suggest him to go on and publish.
You don’t want to act on that temptation?
Especially given that I am not the one voicing accusations. He is the one making accusations, right? He owes to show proofs, not me.
If need be, there must be a showdown, and manipulations will be prevented.
First and foremost, the manpulations will not be prevented. Making manipulations is the workstyle of these people. They won’t be prevented. Secondly, of course that will give a chance to many-many people to read and make up their own mind around it. But the Minsk Group has not vanished, you know? Independent of the fact that this person is the one negotiating now. Tomorrow there will be a different negotiator. That is not a second rate structure. Let me remind everyone that we deal with Russia, United States and France. If we lose their trust fully, what will be our gain? If our people have doubts, let them follow the statements made by the co-chairs. A few times these people attempted to misinterpret the proposals made by the co-chairs. They reacted swiftly. Reacted several times. Isn’t that enough for the doubtful people to realize where is the truth, and what is just an attempt to justify own failures of these people?
Mr President, only to conclude on this issue about the UN Security Council, I have to re-direct this question and ask you to clarify the following in order to close on this one subject.
One of the main claims made by the Prime Minister is that one of our biggest negotiation failures has been to agree in 2016 that the UN Security Council will be given the de facto mandate to deal with this issue. In other words – that finding a comprehensive resolution was delegated to this body. You are now assuring us that it was fully in the best interests of Armenia to consider the adoption of a resolution by the UN Security Council as one of three parallel formats for settlement.
I want this to be very clear. First and foremost, there could not be any document that would fully be only in the interests of Armenia. It would be in Armenia’s interest if the territories in the entire security zone, and maybe even more, were reunited with Armenia. Am I right? These [issues] cannot be formulated in that manner.
Yes, of course. But neither it was good for Azerbaijan.
For Azerbaijan – totally not. The formulation is the following: if those proposals were accepted by the parties and there was also a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council, preceded by, as I said, the adoption of interstate declaration and joint statement by the co-chairs – all of that would have given us an opportunity to resolve the issue by peaceful means and without crossing any of the red lines that we had always had.
This means all the steps, from the beginning to the end, would be resolved by a package deal?
Yes, that is correct.
I also want to add something. I want to be very clear and say that despite the fact that this declaration was not signed or adopted in Kazan, it had been the last one, titled as a working document. I said in the past and will reiterate again that those kinds of documents are called ‘working’ which is being accepted by the parties involved as a basis for discussion, is being negotiated for a long while and either is being signed, or is not being signed and is dispatched to the OSCE Depository. Kazan was the last one.
This is one aspect.
Secondly, after the negotiations in Kazan and after the documents tabled in Kazan there had been no other paper, no other proposal by the co-chairs which in some ways or another would not maintain those main provisions that were present in the Kazan document, simply because Kazan document was based on the Madrid Principles. Of course, some issues were being further clarified, corrected etc. No single other [working] document. Including the docket with three documents never became a working document and never dispatched to the OSCE Depository, since Azerbaijan did not accept those. Even though I am supporting those now, we neither gave our agreement to that. I mean – we did not say we were against, neither we gave our agreement. And in general, after Kazan we did not give our approval to any document and neither expressed any opinion. Instead, we would tell the following: given that the Kazan document, approved by you, we were ready to sign, if you have any modifications to make, please, first seek approval by Azerbaijan, and if the Azeris agree to accept your modified proposals as a basis for future negotiations, we would then proceed to respond.
And that never happened?
Yes, every time Azerbaijan would refuse to accept the tabled proposals as a basis for negotiations.
Very well. The document of January 2018 has been touched upon, Mr President. We remember in Krakow it was the last meeting between Foreign Ministers during your tenure. Three months after, when you were being elected as Prime Minister in the parliament, in response to a question by one of the MPs you said that the negotiation process did not inspire optimism, that Azerbaijan’s expectations are not realistic, and for us – those are unacceptable. That thesis has been circulated by the incumbent authorities often enough and you are being reminded, that during your time in office and at the moment you were relinquishing power the negotiation process was in a deadlock or did not inspire optimism indeed. In that case what have the Foreign Ministers agree on? I mean – had they achieved any principled agreement in January 2018 in Krakow?
As I see, Davit, you are also under the influence of their manipulations and you too are quoting my statement, to put it mildly, only a short piece. But in that answer I continued speaking about the subject-matter.
I remember that. That is the most well known episode, that is why I did not quote directly. I know that statement of yours very well.
That is again a manipulation. That is their workstyle – to cut a sentence or a word out of its context, make it a flag and raise it high, trying to discredit [something]. Rather, not that they are trying to discredit former processes, but they are attempting to justify themselves, of why they have failed at the end of the day. What I said then was very clear, clear enough. I said – dear people, every second, every day we should expect new violence by Azerbaijan.
Well, that was not news. We had always expected that.
I did not mean to say something new standing there. I had to say what the reality was. And the reality could not be anything new. I said the reality was the following: we are constructive, Azerbaijan is not, and the co-chairs see that very clearly, and that is a normal situation. What else should I have said, Davit? Should I have said – look, we are winning, tomorrow Karabakh will be independent, as they have done in the course of the 44-day war? Should I have done that?
The Prime Minister also used to say something opposite, Mr President. He used to say that we were constructive, and so was Azerbaijan. This is what in May 2020 the Prime Minister said in response to a question by an MP – he attributed certain constructivism to Azerbaijan in fact.
Our problems stem from there, too. How can you qualify the leader of a state you are in conflict with in that way, saying he is ‘constructive’? Have you ever heard me saying that Aliyev was constructive? You can say he is a realist, you can say – if you really want that – he is smart, educated etc etc. But why do you say ‘constructive’? Where have you seen that constructive attitude? Where?
You know, I think all this mess they have created in the negotiation process is due to two reasons. The first one is, indeed, they did not have a grasp on the topic. That was rooted in their arrogance that they could invent something new, disregarding and throwing out of window what the co-chairs proposed. The second one, in my opinion, is that maybe – and I am saying this despite the fact that they treated us with disrespect – I am trying to convince myself that these people did want to bring to a new and better [negotiation] process. But such a wish could never materialize without appropriate assets – knowlegde, strength, flexibility etc. If you can recall, one of the former Russian Prime Ministers once said something and then it became an often quoted dictum. He said – we wanted the best, but it turned out as always. These people have the same. They wanted to secure a better negotiation process, but made it completely opposite. When they reached power, they wanted a better Armenia, but got divided the society to ‘blacks and whites’. Wanted to be more democratic, but it resulted in political parties began talking to each other in slurs. They aspired a corruption free Armenia, now they are entirely stuck in corruption themselves. They wanted a more efficient army, but instead perished that same army. They wanted to acquire more modern arms and ammunitions, but what they acquired was not useful in the war which turned out catastrophic for us. That is the workstyle of these people. I could continue this line for a long time – be that about the freedom of the media, the issues in the judiciary etc.
I suggest we return to the main subject of our conversation, Mr President. I have to remind one other episode, which was again much dwelled on by the Prime Minister in his Facebook press appearance on December 24, 2021. Touching upon the modalities of the proposed referendum to be held for the determination of the final status of Nagorno Karabakh he made a very notable statement. Let’s remind ourselves of that episode:
In the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, or NKAO, as it turns out, [there were] not only Armenian population, but also Azerbaijani population… Meantime, the Prime Minister carries on and says that throughout the negotiations process no [Armenian] government and no negotiator ever questioned the validity of the rights of those Azeri nationals who once lived in Nagorno Karabakh. In any of the documents negotiated during your time in office, Mr President, has it ever been put on the record, or been agreed otherwise verbally, that those Azeri nationals who lived in NKAO by 1988 should be entitled to, for example, the right of self-determination? Has it ever been conversed about? A bit later I will remind of another episode, where the Prime Minister speaks about the rights to self-determination of those Azeris who used to live in NKAO.
I really fail to understand what they mean by saying ‘purely Armenian’ state or population. What does it mean ‘only Armenian’? By the same logic, when he goes to negotiations on other issues, does he consider Armenia as a state ‘only for Armenians’? I have no idea what logic he lives with when saying that. Even when we talk about culture, are we saying something exhibits ‘only’ Armenian culture? It’s a fact that even in the ‘purely Armenian’ culture there are always some other minor or not so influences. What does it mean ‘purely Armenian’?
Probably, by 100 percent Armenian ethnic composition, and with no other.
But there is no such a thing. When some percentage of the people that are bound to self determination, some part of the people are representatives of other nationalities – does it mean something? No, it does not mean anything. Had that been the case, I think Sochi, for example, could pursue self-determination, because the great majority of the population of Sochi is of Armenian origin. Same goes true about Glendale, CA, and many other examples can also be cited. The right to self-determination does not work that way.
I want to remind the context where this idea was expressed, Mr President. Carrying on with this line of thinking in the same press conference, the Prime Minister said the Armenian position had never denied that the former Azerbaijani population of Nagorno Karabakh had to participate in the future referendum too. He then continued to ask whether in the context of that referendum, the subject-matter of which should not be anyhow restricted, the Azeri nationals of Nagorno Karabakh could also possibly raised an issue about their own self-determination.
No, clearly no. And I also add that the details of the referendum have never been discussed. Those details were left to be incorporated in the comprehensive agreement. We have only put on the record the main parameters, which had vital importance for us. The other modalities…
Neither the wording of the question [to be put on the referendum] had been deliberated?
No, of course it had not. All of that, I repeat, was reserved for that [comprehensive] agreement. That is unequivocally so. You will not see anywhere in those documents or even those proposals, that pertained to the basic principles, no single hint even that before the final resolution of the conflict the Azerbaijanis had to return to the main territories of Nagorno Karabakh. There was no such a thing.
And participate to the referendum…
There was no such a thing. Let them show a single document, which included such a hint even.
Mr President, in that proposed future referendum a few decades later would the Azerbaijanis or their descendants participate?
Davit, let me reiterate. That would be an issue to be discussed under the comprehensive agreement, where our position would have been the following: that the Azerbaijanis could participate in the referendum exactly how they participated in the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan ‘as inhabitants of Nagorno Karabakh’. They did not cast their ballots [for parliamentary elections] in Nagorno Karabakh itself, right? Let them vote where they lived, and let them vote in favor of Azerbaijan. Our population would vote in favor of Armenia. Why am I putting it this way?
Whereas the proportionality of the voters would be according to their respective shares as in 1988 ethnic composition?
Exactly. We have always said and it would in no way depreciate our work, that indeed we accepted that those temporarily displaced had to return to the areas of their permanent residence. Yet that could have happened only when and only in case the issue of the legal authority in that region would have been resolved, and that authority would assume responsibility for the security of those people. Had they not recognized Nagorno Karabakh as a state, which entity could possibly have provided for the return of those people? For example, who would have ensured that only those few Azeri nationals returned to Stepanakert, who had lived there before. There could not be a peacekeeping or police force stationed next to every Armenian and Azerbaijani, right? That mess would have thrown us back to the 1988 again. That was the reason why the co-chairs had never said we were wrong in any of the issues we raised. Let me repeat again – those words about return pertained to those Azerbaijani nationals who lived in the regions that would have been yielded to Azerbaijan as part of the mutual compromise. And by the way, that too had certain provisions and conditions. I would skip discussing the details here.
You mean what eventually took place after the recent war?
I do not know if they have been relocated there or not now. But following the war that was already upon Azerbaijan to decide. Yet back in the time I referred earlier it was not upon Azerbaijan to decide. That was addressed both in the draft resolution to be adopted by the UN Security Council, as well as some other documents. Thus I would say this was all crystal clear.
I mean, I do not understand what does that man want? Does he want us to say ‘no, no Azerbaijani national will ever live in Nagorno Karabakh territory’? Does he want us to utter that? We have never had any such approach. I just fail to comprehend someone who repeats verbatim the words of the individual that has humiliated him as a man, humiliated him as a head of state and as a representative of the Armenian people.
OK, if in the initial stages he would naively think that he could bypass the cochairs and individually achieve some agreements with Azerbaijan – ok, to some degree at least that was possible to understand. But after this devastating war when Aliyev calls you ‘a drunk clown’ – I do not even want to repeat those insults spoken about this individual – how can you repeat the words of the man who insulted and humiliated you, or even worse cite his words as your own argument? That is beyond my comprehension.
Mr President, in the same press availability on Facebook the Prime Minister also insisted that Armenia and Azerbaijan had never been able to agree on the timing of the referendum and even brought a provisional example. He said, that Azerbaijan could claim the referendum would not be held in the next 100 years, while Armenia could insist on holding the referendum in the next five years, and hence he argued you even failed to ever agree on clarifying the timing of the referenudm with Azerbaijan.
To begin with - we had no big desire to agree on the timing. I have said and must repeat now that Azerbaijan might even refuse to agree on any referendum in the future. And exactly for that reason I am saying that the only possible resolution has been the package solution. Such a package deal does not give any opportunity to any of the parties to get everything it wants, and put forward conditions for the rest…
It was exactly for this reason that five [of the adjacent] regions would be yielded, and two we would keep. Until the referendum was held, those two regions – Lachin and Kelbajar – would be maintained [under Armenian control].
Aliyev has confessed about that right in Karvajar…
Yes. But well, that was not the only thing Aliyev has confessed about, right? The documents that were received after the April war, that this person calls ‘a catastrophe’, Aliyev considered that he was being forced to recognize the independence [of Nagorno Karabakh]. So, I think their opinions are still different maybe, but I am sure in this case Aliyev has changed his mind. So, then the Azerbaijanis had a choice – either agree on holding the referendum and leave Karabakh outside of its territory in a legitimate way, or leave Lachin and Kelbajar to remain part of Karabakh. If that was in their interests, let them do that. And you probably were observing that Armenians uprooted from other regions were relocating to Lachin and Kelbajar already. Those Armenians that would be relocating from those other five regions would again resettle in in Lachin and Kelbajar and live for so long as the Azerbaijanis would decide to agree on holding the referendum. The peacekeeping forces would be there, Armenian army would be there, the self-defense forces of Nagorno Karabakh would be there and there would be the approval of the international community. And in that scenario the resumption of armed hostilities would have been much more painful for Azerbaijan.
One more clarifying question regarding the ethnic composition of 1988 in Nagorno Karabakh, Mr President. The Prime Minister said in his latest Facebook press availability that you either after 2016 or after the Kazan document (he did not clarify when exactly) wrote a letter to the co-chairmen, where you requested to restore the provision about the 1988 ethnic composition in the region.
No. There he distorted it or did not understand it. Indeed, I did address letters to them. I wrote letters a year before the Kazan document appeared, substantiating on our behalf some of the corrections, so to say, on the existing document. As a result the Kazan document became more acceptable for us, than the preceding document. And here I have no intention to show arrogance and insist that exactly my letter served as a basis for such amendments. But that was the outcome. The second letter I addressed after the April war, and then we received proposals that in no ways had any drawbacks compared to the proposals contained in the Kazan document. I have no ambition to claim that if I write letters to the most powerful leaders in the world my proposals or requests have to be accepted in full. This is just another negotiation skill. So if those are poor letters indeed, let him publicize those. Let’s see then if those letters bring us more respect, or more malediction. Let him publish. Let him write a couple of such letters now.
Mr President, that clause about the 1988 ethnic composition was around for some time, and then it vanished?
That clause had never vanished. In those documents, which this man calls ‘catastrophic’, it’s been very plainly indicated that all outstanding issues, not included therein, have been included in preceding documents saved in the OSCE Depository. This means it clearly provided that one had to go back and look into the Kazan document. What else should there be?
Now let us turn to the your legacy in this negotiation process. A short while ago we spoke about the principles and elements that the Foreign Ministers agreed upon in 2018. In January 2020 the Prime Minister touched upon your negotiations legacy in his press conference in Kapan and offered some notable assessments. I suggest we play that now.
So what do we have? As the Prime Minister himself recognized a number of times, he has begun the negotiation process from his own starting point, not the point where you left. At the same time he takes note of the legacy you left behind and adds that at any moment he can go back to that point [and continue from there]. To put it bluntly, he claims that is his ‘Plan B’ which he can always have handy. Meantime I have to make reference to the interview we had a year ago. at that time you made an assumption that the proposal given to the parties in April 2019, as it seemed to you, was a ‘phased approach’ – judging by the leaks, judging by the signals from Russia and other co-chairing countries.
Mr President, why do you think such a decision was made? If there was your legacy in negotiations – which was based on ‘package deal’ – why then it was replaced and what it was replaced with?
It’s hard to say with certainty, but I can share my own conclusions as to why such a thing was proposed by the co-chairs and why these people accepted that as a basis for negotiations. Here I want to explicitly avoid using the word ‘document’, because it’s the main paper called ‘working document’. The co-chairmen tabled such proposals because these people by then were not giving due consideration to their approaches. Do you remember the time when the Madrid Principles were replaced by ‘Munich Principles’, which I think was drafted [on a napkin] in a nearby pub? It’s ununderstandable. Whereas roughly for ten years in a row in the annual OSCE Ministerials and in one OSCE Summit in 2010 the Madrid Principles – I mean those well-known three principles - had been clearly put on the record, these people replaced those in the OSCE Ministerial in Milan with some vague and amorphous wording that there should be promoted a certain ‘just settlement’ of the conflict.
So when you do not want to accept the proposals rendered by the co-chair countries as basis for negotiations, when you do some other tricks, those co-chairs eventually bring what they bring. When you speak about ‘just settlement’, in their respective opinions it would have been ‘fair’ if you yielded those regions first and then it would be discussed what might happen next.
You mean the ‘phased option’?
Probably. I do not insist it was a certain ‘phased option’ [of resolution]. But I am sure it was significantly weaker, a much weaker document for us, compared to all previous proposals.
Now let’s turn to the claim that at every moment he could have recovered all that, etc. That is another example of arrogance. Had he been able to recover it, why was he hesitating?
Maybe he was seeking a better option?
Yeah, ‘but it turned out as always’. And in this case, what does the legacy left by Serzh Sargsyan have to do with it? In which case, why does that matter what legacy I left if these people put whatever that was aside and began putting together the ‘pearls of their own thought’? How does my legacy matter then? That is, according to their worst possible interpretations on their part, the latest documents had to be implemented the following way: Azerbaijan would receive its seven regions and we would receive nothing….
He would say that on the very first day of the war, Mr President.
Did he? OK then. Is the situation today any better, than it would have been according to the worst interpretations of that document? What do we have today? According to their worst possible interpretations, let’s suppose seven regions had to be withdrawn from and we would receive nothing… But now we have relinquished a territory that is twice larger the size, perished more than 5000 soldiers, crushed our army, and have become a nation and a state subjected to capitulation. Can these two realities ever be compared? Besides, can I assume that only for the purpose of discrediting the former [government] and the previous negotiation process they have chosen to go for this gamble? Do I have the right to think this way? If not some gamble – then what is it? What does it mean to say ‘how could I choose to go for peaceful settlement, if I had been reported that at the Security Council session that we were prepared to fight by “not an inch back” principle’? What else would those relevant officials tell him? Should they have said that ‘you know, once Azerbaijan unleashes military hostilities, we might run away’? Doesn’t he consider himself to be the leader of the state? Doesn’t he consider himself the commander-in-chief? The commander-in-chief has two-three main functions, one of which is assessment of the situation and making decisions. Except for those responsible officials in charge of the army, our state has had the Office of the Chief Military Inspection, led by Colonel General. In order to be promoted to the rank of Colonel General the military officer had to go through a very long journey and experience in the career. That Office has a staff. And except for this Office, he had the military counter-intelligence unit at his disposal. In the structure of our National Security Service we have a designated large organisation that deals with the army. Or else we have the National Security Service itself with a designated large unit for intelligence. Has he collected the opinions of those people. Have all those people said that indeed, “we will win”?
I do not want to vindicate those leaders in the army or the armed forces. Not at all. I am telling you something different. I am saying these authorities do not have the right to blame them. That right rests with those of us who had nothing to do with the relevant decisionmaking process. What does he mean when he says ‘I was told so’? Does it seem to him that noone was telling me otherwise not to stop the April war or suggesting that we should go ahead and advance? There have been such people…
There were such people in the public space, too. Both then and now.
I do not only mean those saying that in public. It is the job of the leader to make decisions that he is responsible for, that he will be able to implement.
He then continues this thread of thought and says ‘suppose on the third or fourth day I might have the hostilities seized, had the General Staff or the army reported so, or wouldn’t they call me a traitor otherwise?’ He carries on with this line and says he would be blamed for treason…
That’s exactly what I mean when I am saying that they had wanted to resolve the Karabakh issue without giving anything in return, yet in fact it turned out to be the opposite – that is what I am saying now. Inter alia, it was for this reason that they rejected the proposals given by the co-chairs, and which were achievable on the ground. They have attempted to play the gamble of ‘not-an-inch-backers’ (vochmitizakanutyun – ed. note) – in a covert way.
In that case why he would say that Azerbaijan is ‘constructive’, Mr President? These two theses do not add up together.
But which one of his statements adds up to the rest? Give me an example of what he said some three months ago that was not replaced with something else later? Except for calling us different names, such as ‘corrupt’ and a few other examples… What else of what he says is worthy of anything? Have you forgotten this man used to say that there were ‘three million prime ministers’ in Armenia and only 2-3 weeks later these ‘prime ministers’ were knocking on the doors of the Government building and were not being let in? Have you forgotten that this man used to say that my Government was to be blamed for the high rate of poverty in the country, and then some time later he said ‘poverty is in your heads’? I can bring hundreds of such examples. So, how can such a man be consistent in whatever he says and does? That’s impossible. Just impossible. It will neither be possible in the future.
Mr President, I have to bring up an episode about the Kazan document that we touched upon in our interview a year ago. You told me the following, verbatim – when I asked you about the details of its content, you said that the document implied a status for Nagorno Karabakh outside of Azerbaijan, that we would get an internationally guaranteed pledge that the final legal status of Nagorno Karabakh had to be decided through the free expression of will of its people, which must have an international legally binding force and its agenda should not have been restrictive [of any option]. Do you have any ground to believe, that after 2018 these ‘red lines’, which you claim had been in the foundation of our negotiating position during your tenure, I mean that the Armenian side has not necessarily maintained any one of these elements since 2018?
I do not want to make guesses. But I can tell you the following. First, when through the leak he had himself organized and the public became to be aware of the so-called Krakow proposals and witnessed that the features you just cited were present in that document clearly. Second, I want to reaffirm one more time that in the documents or proposals we received in 2016 those same clauses, which I mentioned during our previous interview and which you cited again now – were fully incorporated. Fully.
I do not want to do guesswork. I have not seen the 2019 document, and neither I want to see it.
Noone is even talking about that one, it’s probably outdated even…
But what would they even talk about, what more? Does anyone speak about those so-called ‘Munich principles’? What at all is being talked about?
At least that way we could learn what was being negotiated before the war. What was at stake, so to say?
Well, that's their business already. Maybe they want us not to find out.
As you can see, I am fully prepared to show to you, our society as well as the international society what was it that we wanted, and what was the [content of] latest proposals that we had received. I reiterate that those were not the embodiment of our dreams, but those were proposals that were going to be implementable on the ground and which would have brought more security and prosperity to Nagorno Karabakh.
Mr President, yet what was the calculus or why had Azerbaijan continuously been raising the stakes by rejecting the proposals every time the parties were so close to signing an agreement? That’s also something the Prime Minister speaks about continuously. He says every time the parties were close to a deal, the Azerbaijanis would torpedo it and bring forward new demands that were unacceptable for us?
No, I don’t think that was the case. Indeed, Azerbaijan was disruptive and indeed Azerbaijan at times was refusing to continue negotiations. But it’s wrong to say that the proposals were being worsened for us over time. The proposals, I repeat, were based on the Kazan document. Maybe slight changes with moving words around, but nothing substantial was being amended. That was the basis. And none of the documents included something that could, I repeat, force us to not just step over our own ‘red lines’, but even come closer to those same ‘red lines’.
Including the edition that was known in the Armenian society as “Lavrov plan”?
I have to repeat, that no designated document called “Lavrov plan” ever existed. People labeled it that way, and by the way – including those in the incumbent Government today, when at the time they were in opposition. The co-chairmen have spoken about that too.
I also want us to underline one other fact. Until the 2018 the co-chairmen were unanimous in the proposals they were putting on the table. Even when something at some point was being tabled by the French, next time it would be the Americans, and then – and more actively so in the last period – it would be the Russian side.
But still they were in concert with each other?
By all means. By the way, I can also say that the 2019 document, which was given to these people, that too was internally agreed upon [among the co-chairs]. According to my information, when the Russians proposed the document to them, they have somewhat chosen to abstain, saying that a meeting was going to be held in the United States etc… And then this document was given to them in the United States.
I mean it doesn’t make a big difference which side is formally presenting the document.
We have a nice word in Armenian – ‘concord’ (‘համախոհություն’ – ed. note). All those proposals were being drafted by concord of the mediators, and then passed on to all parties to the conflict. I said ‘all parties’, in plural. And this is one other important highlight. In many documents, where it was needed, they didn’t say ‘two parties’, they would add the word ‘all’ to mean plurality.
Presuming also the Karabakh side?
Definitely. Otherwise they would say “Armenian” or “Azerbaijani”. Why else they would say ‘all parties’ or ‘parties’? Isn’t that obvious? I am sure he knows this nuance too…
It was completely something new for us that the representative of Artsakh would participate in the negotiations at a certain future period. I don’t think this has ever been talked about.
I did say that. Can’t recall with certainty where, but I did. Definitely did. I said that during my term in office…
Mr President, the incumbent Government blames you the most for not voicing everything related to the Nagorno Karabakh issue while you were still in office. They blame you for not being open enough, clear and honest enough, and for concealing certain facts…
Do they? But what facts have we concealed? And who else and in what period has been speaking more about the Nagorno Karabakh peace process? Tell me… When? Who? Have we ever denied for years that we were given a document, or proposals had been made? They have denied it for years! Moreover, they even failed to conceal properly. Since time after time – and I apologize for this word – it was their Foreign Minister who had slips of a tongue and uttered that they were negotiating in fact. How could they not negotiate if they spent 4-5 hours together? What else would they do? And even then they would return and say there was no document, etc.
Where has been the entire transparency exhibited? Was it when he came back and said Aliyev was ‘constructive’? Has that been the entire transparency they speak about?
No, I do not accept such an accusation. I do accept many, but not that one.
Mr President, in the 2.5 years before the war there had been only one meeting between the two leaders with the participation of the mediators – in March 2019 in Vienna. They had other meetings on a few other occasions.
That’s exactly what I am saying.
Maybe there have been negotiations, informally? I mean, do you have any ground to assume that without the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs the two parties had been in a process of exchanging data, information, had been discussing some options…? There is even this allegation about sealed envelopes…
I am not sure they could have discussed any specific options for resolution, but I am also sure they could well have traded hints, of course. Because I know the workstyle of Azerbaijani President too well. I do not exclude that he could well have said that ‘all that had to be put aside, so that we lived in peace, every nation for itself, I do not need Karabakh, I would never invade in Karabakh’ etc.
Or – let’s meet somewhere without the international community present, we’ll seat in peace and try to understand all this…
Could Aliyev have made such a proposal?
He could have. I don’t want to – let me put it this way – dive into it and I do not exclude he could have well said other things too – that ‘this is the right thing to do’, etc. I mean – this man here tried to interpret for himself what Aliyev meant, the latter would make his own interpretations, but the reality is that such exchanges could not have failed to attract the attention of the co-chairs. That was definitely the case.
Well, what happened that after the change of government, as they were proudly saying, there was no shooting at the border for a year and a half? Why has Aliyev abandoned his own aggressiveness? Why have the relevant people not spoken out when very large swaths of land in Nakhijevan direction were slipped out of our control? It was obvious, that there was no clarity, but they had been into [certain exchanges]… I am wondering why Aliyev has not reciprocated to call this man ‘constructive’? It would be nice if Aliyev had traded the same niceties – calling this person ‘constructive’ or even ‘smarty’. It would have been very nice, no?
But living in illusions, governing by manipulations eventually leads to a tragedy. The ‘catastrophe’ is not that this person did not understand well some things in the peace process, or that we understood things better. But what we have today is ‘a catastrophe’, when we have, I repeat, a crushed army, we have become a state subjected to capitulation, and that in their opinion there is no certainty and no opportunity about the remaining territories of Nagorno Karabakh… We are left with nothing now, right? When they have spoken up about all this? Why are they not speaking now? A long time has passed since the war. Why are they silent? A year and three months passed. Let them tell how all that happened. Have they met after all this? Have they negotiated on these issues? Then, why are the co-chairs not coming to the region? Why are these people afraid to say that a meeting with the co-chairs has to be organized?
A few times the regional visit, including to Nagorno Karabakh, by the co-chairs has been postponed.
Mr President, is there any peace process now? Or a new basis is formed by three joint trilateral statements adopted in Moscow and Brussels, none of which is about Artsakh? Those are about lifting the blockades, about demarcation, but not about Artsakh.
Had there been any negotiations, we would know perhaps. Had there been any process, we would know probably. But what negotiation process can there be, if the governor of Armenia says that back in 2016 Armenia has missed ‘both theoretical and practical’ chances? I mean, who he shall negotiate with, given such statements? Would he go to negotiate with Aliyev? Aliyev would tell him – OK, sit down and sign this paper that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan. It’s you been saying that you have missed all the chances, right?
He alleges something else too. He says in 1992 Armenia recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan with reference to the founding document of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
On this one I believe it’s due to lack of any knowledge. I am not suggesting I am a lawyer or have a vastly deep knowledge in that legal subject-matter. Membership in any international organization never leads to recognition of the territorial integrity of the state. Then, it is a very complex notion. Then, the territorial integrity of the state has nothing to do with the right of peoples to self-determination. There are rulings of international courts more specifically, for example, on the issue of Kosovo. Let them go and study those documents. For example, both Turkey and Greece are NATO member-states. Had that membership meant that they recognized the territorial integrity of each other, if they have carried out delimitation-demarcation procedures, why are the two occasionally erupting in a conflict? What a poor argument is all that?
By the same token – and I apologize for this word – it is a stupid thing to say that Aliyev’s aspirations about Armenia, and more specifically claims that Yerevan is an Azerbaijani city, is only a response to what we are saying.
But who said that Baku is an Armenian town?
I had to ask you that, so that you ask the rest…
I do not have an answer to that question.
Speaking for myself, I have been in this process since 1988. I have never heard, whether in public or in private, anything like that either from Levon Ter-Petrosyan, or from Robert Kocharyan. Neither I ever said that. Who has ever said that? Maybe some opposition figure, or maybe a historian could have said that [Baku is Armenian]. They could have reciprocated in the appropriate level. But when it’s the head of the state saying such things and you are busy justifying that – I think it’s inappropriate to add anything on top of that…
Mr President, let’s conclude our conversation with reference to the realities of today. You touched upon it a bit. You said the negotiation process has stalled. The two leaders have stopped talking anyting about Artsakh any more. The co-chairmanship format is nowhere around. The co-chairs have not visited the region since the war. OK, but the Nagorno Karabakh conflict has not been resolved, has it?
Definitely it has not.
So, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict has not been resolved.
It is my deepest conviction that it has not, it has not been resolved. And that is not only my conviction. That is presumed under the co-chair statements.
I want to hear from you some expectations, a certain vision, an idea how can we declare to the world that demarcation shall not yield to Artsakh’s recognition as part of Azerbaijan, that we have a set of ‘red lines’ that cannot be neglected – given how crushed, broken and diplomatically faceless we have become in our present situation? This is especially important given the signals we receive, for example from France, where they say Artsakh issue is a priority for them and that it shall be an agenda item…
I have responded to this question a few times and have said the following: these authorities do not have the ability or capacity to do that. I will find more appropriate opportunities in the future to dwell on this. But now I should suggest that the segment of our society, which things that Artsakh is Armenian, the segment that believes we can straighten our back, I call upon all those people to unite and demand from these authorities to stop being a political beggar. Begging for peace has never brought to peace. Never. I am not saying we should not be seeking peace. Quite the contrary.
In what I have said, both at the beginning and now, I ask that no one should look for any calls for revenge. I am saying that despite being crushed and despite the capitulation we have opportunities to recover the peace process.
Do we have any chance?
Yes, we do have that chance, and we must demand this people to go down that alley.
And what rightfully belongs to us has to be ours.
Exactly. And what is ours? Ours is the right of people of Nagorno Karabakh to self-determination. And yes, that right is an inalianeble, inherent one. And for a very long time the international community has confirmed that. If by our actions we must make the international community to change their opinion, then it’s no more the problem of the international community, it’s our problem.
Either by actions or inaction.
Exactly. It’s the same. At any rate that will be a crime. Maybe not necessarily incorporated in the Criminal Code, but that will be a crime.
We do have that opportunity, and indeed we must come forward and be quite resolute in our demands – and not only by the word of mouth. If we lay out those demands in the way it should be, I think some time later we will be able to say that to some extent the negotiation process is being reanimated.
You know, for a long while after the 2018 [power change], but especially after the war we were being accused of certain revanchism. In fact, we have never been that.
Domestically, or abroad you mean?
Both at home and abroad.
Aliyev calls you a revanchist…
I mean, abroad does not only mean Azerbaijan. We have never been a revanchist. Neither we have ever been proponents of yielding ours to the aliens, since that has never been our personal issue – that has been and is our national agenda. And that can either bring more prosperity and better future over a very long time for our people, or can destroy and demolish our people… That is the question.
I thank you for this opportunity and for this interview.
I appreciate this invitation and for giving me this opportunity.