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August 22 2018 | 12:16pm AET

Spokesman attempts to walk back Sarkisian’s pledge to “return 7 [Artsakh] regions”

Source: Asbarez | Thursday, 01 December 2016
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President Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Aliyev begin Russian-mediated talks in St. Petersburg (Photo: president.am)

President Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Aliyev begin Russian-mediated talks in St. Petersburg (Photo: president.am)

Sarkiain explained that “the Armenians side—Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia—will leave the territories which are currently serve as a security belt. The same territories, which Azerbaijan says are occupied—the seven Azerbaijani regions.”

YEREVAN—Territorial concessions to Azerbaijan within the context of the Karabakh conflict resolution process are contingent on an agreement on Artsakh’s final status stemming from its population’s right to self-determination, President Serzh Sarkisian told Azatutyun.am Wednesday through a spokesman.

The presidential press secretary, Vladimir Hakobian, told Azatutyun that within the framework of the Karabakh conflict resolution, “the imperative of a land corridor linking Armenia and Karabakh is stipulated,” hence any discussion of an enclave status for Artsakh is inadmissible.

“We are talking about not just a road connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh but the kind of wide, secure and unfettered link that will be fully protected against any encroachment by Azerbaijan,” Hakopian told Azatutyun.

Hakopian said that especially after the four-day war in April, the current status of what he called “territories which act as a security buffer” to Artsakh “is, more than ever justifiable, taking into consideration the constant and immediate threats facing the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Hakopian’s explanation comes as questions are raised about Sarkisian’s remarks in a recent interview to Russian State Television where he said Armenia was prepared to “return all seven territories” referencing the liberated regions of Artsakh.

During the same interview, in discussing the possibility of returning seven territories to Azerbaijan, Sarkisian did not speak about the land corridor, according to Azatutyun.

“We met in Meindorf [Russia in 2008], we signed an agreement based on which the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved through political means. After that we were close to sign agreements on several occasions, based on the aforementioned three provisions,” added Sarkisian in the Russian television interview.

Sarkiain explained that the provisions mean that “the Armenians side—Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia—will leave the territories which are currently serve as a security belt. The same territories, which Azerbaijan says are occupied—the seven Azerbaijani regions. We are leaving those regions. This is what territorial integrity means. The first point, however, stipulates that the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be determined through the free expression of the will of the Karabakh people—through a referendum.”

In that interview, Sarkisian said that five years ago, during a presidential summit in Kazan, Russia, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh were prepared to concede seven territories in return for a referendum that would determine the status of Karabakh. The Armenian president said, however, that his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev refused to sign such a document.

In speaking to Azatutyun, the presidential spokesperson did not specify whether the president’s statement about “leaving the seven territories” was unintentional. Instead he said that the president, in his interview, did not discuss all aspects outlined within agreements proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, who have always stressed that they comprise the totality of the proposals.

“The president outlined that through the first provision of the agreement the right to self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh has been secured,” said Hakopian, the presidential spokesperson, who added that all the other aspects were secondary.

Artsakh’s presidential spokesperson Davit Babayan told Azatutyun on Wednesday that “the liberated lands are a matter of life or death for Artsakh. This has to do with our security, rather than personal ambitions. There will be no return to the past in terms of [Karabakh’s] borders, let alone status. How can we weaken our security, so there will be war and they’ll [Azerbaijanis] will destroy us? Especially since there are precedents and those precedents are not based on 4,000 year or 150 year history, but rather 20- or 25-year history.”





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