YEREVAN — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has chided, through his spokesperson, former President Serzh Sarkisian over his remarks made at a press conference on Wednesday regarding the July clashes at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
Sarkisian, who held his first press conference since Pashinyan-led street protests forced him to resign in April 2018, spoke at length about 2016 April clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh.
He, in particular, said that four years ago battles in Nagorno-Karabakh were waged along a 200-kilometer frontline with Azerbaijan and by their scale could not be compared to the July 2020 fighting in Tavush that proceeded at a front of several hundred meters.
Following the clashes in Tavush Pashinyan asked the president of Armenia to award 16 servicemen who participated in the battles with the Order of the Battle Cross of the 1st degree and 55 others with the Order of the Battle Cross of the 2nd degree. He also nominated Captain Ruben Sanamyan for the title of National Hero and the Order of the Homeland.
During his press conference Sarkisian said that as a member of the public he would like to know for what particular actions the servicemen who took part in the July battles at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border had been nominated for such high awards.
“After the signing of the ceasefire agreement in 1994, when the first President of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosian, was summing up the results of the hostilities of the past four years, only about two dozen people received the Order of the Battle Cross and among them were active participants of the operation on the liberation of Shushi and other major operations,” the ex-president said.
Mane Gevorkyan, the press secretary of Prime Minister Pashinyan, said that in order to avoid speculations the actions of all servicemen nominated for awards will be presented to the public in detail in the near future. “I sincerely regret that instead of praising the victorious actions of Armenian soldiers, Serzh Sarkisian is engaged in a futile business of discussing this important decision. The prime minister had every reason to turn to the president with such a request,” Gevorkyan said.
Sarkisian also briefly commented on the current stage of the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations, claiming that the talks have reached a deadlock, which increases the risk of renewed hostilities.
Tatevik Hayrapetyan, a member of the pro-government My Step faction in parliament, reacted to this statement by saying that as a man who had been engaged in talks with Azerbaijan for many years Sarkisian should have known that it is Azerbaijan that is driving the process into an impasse with its maximalist statements.
The lawmaker argued that the actions of the Armenian side during the past two years “have made it possible to keep Azerbaijan within the context of the peace process as long as it is possible in conditions of its maximalist position.”