If we want lasting peace, we must make decisions that will not be too unfair. Robert Kocharyan—the second President, leader of the "Armenia" bloc which will run in Sunday’s snap parliamentary elections, and its candidate for prime minister—said this in an interview with Russian media, in connection with the avenues to resolve the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict with Azerbaijan.
"It seems to me that, nevertheless, it is possible to reach an agreement through negotiations on the former territory, borders of the NKAO. Here we [the Armenian side] have a rather strong argument; it is connected with a nation's right to self-determination. I see certain prospects for negotiations. In what format can the negotiations be? For now, it is the format of the OSCE Minsk Group. Events have led to the fact that Russia's role has become more dominant, and it occupies leading positions within the Minsk Group," said the former president.
To the question whether there was an opportunity to stop the Artsakh war last fall sooner, Kocharyan answered: "Undoubtedly. First, there was an absolute opportunity not to lose it, it had to be stopped. And there were such opportunities. This is just untalented administration [on part of Armenian authorities]. There was an initiative of the President of Russia to stop the war—if I am not mistaken, on October 19. The Armenian side rejected that proposal for completely incomprehensible reasons, explaining it by the fact that he [acting PM Nikol Pashinyan] would not be understood correctly and would be called a 'traitor' [by Armenians]. We lost more than if we had agreed at that moment. And they call him a 'traitor' all the same."
The former president does not think that Armenia's possible recognition of Karabakh's independence would have had tangible consequences during the war. "And what would recognition have changed during the war? We had to fight, we had to keep the front, not retreat and hand over everything one by one. I do not think it would have changed anything. We [Armenia] were not recognizing the independence of NKR so as not to provoke a war. But the current authorities moved the issue from the sphere of self-determination to the sphere of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Consciously or because of stupidity, I will not go into details. But it was done, and it legitimized the military campaign of Azerbaijan; allegedly, 'We are restoring our territorial integrity.' And no country condemned the start of hostilities," Robert Kocharyan added.