A few days ago, the third president Serzh Sargsyan gave an interview on the negotiation process over the Nagorno Karabakh issue, during which, among other things, he referred to possible verbal agreements on territorial concessions. Sargsyan also referred to the verbal agreement reached during the four-day war in April, on the basis of which the war was stopped.
Taron Chakhoyan, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister, referred to the mentioned parts of the interview with a video and a relevant text. He referred to two parts from the video, in one of which Sargsyan says: “I can state that absolutely no promise was made orally,” and in the other part he says: “I have openly said that only a verbal agreement was reached to end the war”.
Chakhoyan concluded in the text attached to the video that Serzh Sargsyan “․․․makes fundamentally contradictory statements a few minutes apart. He says there were no verbal agreements, and only a few minutes later he states that the April war was stopped on the basis of verbal agreements”.
The post of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister was shared by the former Chairman of the Public Council Styopa Safaryan, after which the two posts were published together on the website of “Haykakan Zhamanak” belonging to the Prime Minister’s family. Chakhoyan’s post was also published by araratnews.am, armpublic.am, armenianews.net and medianews.am websites. By the way, the last two websites belong to Taron Chakhoyan.
The Fact Investigation Platform checked and revealed that the video published by Chakhoyan was cut from context, and the latter’s conclusion that Sargsyan had made fundamentally contradictory statements is wrong.
Thus, the interviewer tells Sargsyan: “When you say that it is impossible to fully grasp the reality of negotiations by reading a document, you can very easily be accused and you are accused of making verbal agreements. And the Prime Minister says in his last Facebook press conference that you personally made promises, and in 2018-2019 it was time to fulfill those promises, and those promises were not recorded in any document”. In response to the question, Sargsyan says: “I can say that there were absolutely no verbal promises. And this is not how we work. To give up things according to verbal agreements, etc., etc., whether it is significant or not.”
In another part of the interview, the interviewer asks Sargsyan a question about the circumstances of the termination of the April Four Day War: “I want to ask you whether any concessions were forced on the Armenian side for ending the war as soon as possible, after four days, or over the interim or final status of Nagorno Karabakh in the bilateral negotiations or the co-chairs’ format. Did the Armenian side go for any concessions or negotiate on them? The Prime Minister claims that, yes, it was in 2016 that the Armenian side made concessions over the status of Nagorno Karabakh.”
Sargsyan responded: “Of course, there was absolutely no pressure or any concession, no written or oral agreement, and I have spoken about it. When I talked about the April war and said that there was an inquiry commission, etc., I said very openly that only a verbal agreement had been reached to end the war, and they insisted that maybe there was a written document, there is some concession and so on.”
Responding to Sargsyan’s words, the journalist said that “they were offering a new ceasefire agreement, and you were against it”. Sargsyan answered: “Absolutely. We did not agree on any new document and no verbal agreement was reached, and this was confirmed by the Co-Chairs when they publicly stated that there is no new document and that the 1994 trilateral agreement remains in force.”
Without assessing the credibility of Serzh Sargsyan’s words, it should be noted that in the quoted passages, the two statements he made in certain contexts, do not contradict each other.
In one case, Sargsyan denies that there were verbal agreements in exchange for some concessions, in another case he speaks of an oral agreement to end the April Four-Day War, meaning that there was no written document in April 2016, in addition to the 1994 Bishkek ceasefire document. That is, according to him, there were no additional concessions.
Thus, the post of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister was cut from context and is manipulative. There is no contradiction in Serzh Sargsyan’s two statements.