YEREVAN. – At Wednesday's press conference, Artur Vanetsyan, the candidate for prime minister of the "I Have Honor" bloc of Armenia and the leader of the opposition Homeland Party, commented on his two controversial statements he had made in his interview with renowned Russian journalist Vladimir Solovyov.
Vanetsyan stated as follows, in particular: "If we translate [it] literally, it means I said, 'Crimea is Armenian.' Of course, I could not have said such a thing. It was made in response which has a continuation. The continuation is as follows: ‘The right of peoples to self-determination is inalienable;’ and I have drawn parallels with the Artsakh [(Nagorno-Karabakh)] issue. I have said [that] if more than 95% of the population of Crimea has expressed a wish—through their expression of free will—to join Russia, then that right must be respected, and first of all it must be respected by Armenia and the Armenian people because we have the issue of the Artsakh conflict where the exercise of the right to self-determination is a cornerstone. Is there an Armenian who does not agree with this assertion?
As for the phrase, ‘I am a Chekist staff,’ the so-called ‘Chekist staff’ is generally the colloquial slang of the representatives of the special services. I had the opportunity to answer one of the representatives of the civil society when I was still the director of the NSS [(National Security Service)], and I said that the NSS of Armenia does not consider itself the legal successor of the former KGB, that page is closed for us. It caused quite a stir even then, too. Yes, I believe that the NSS of Armenia is a body that serves and should serve solely the interests of Armenia, regardless of whether Russia is our ally or not."