Interview with Arthur Khachatryan, Member of Parliament from ARF

Interview with Arthur Khachatryan, Member of Parliament from ARF

Darya Aslamova,’s special correspondent in Armenia, interviewed Artur Khachatryan, a member of the ARF, Parliament Member of the “Hayastan” faction.

– Today in Armenia it is customary to blame Russia for all misfortunes. What explains the explosion of accusations against Russia?

– I think your assessment is exaggerated. There are, of course, anti-Russian sentiments. There are both objective and subjective reasons here. Let’s start with the objective.

In November 2020, after the 44-day war, many Armenians returned to Nagorno Karabakh. Not because a tripartite agreement was signed, but because they hoped that Russian peacekeeping troops would ensure their security. We witnessed what happened on September 19, 2023. Yes, Nikol Pashinyan recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh. It is clear that it changed a lot, but still… People believed that the peacekeeping force would ensure their safety.

There is a political reason, because we see the clear position of the Armenian leadership regarding changing the foreign political vector. In order to justify the change of vector, they begin to blame Russia for various reasons.

– Signing the Rome Statute, that is, recognizing the Hague International Tribunal, is like declaring war. This is not just an attack against Putin, but an attack against the country.

– Yes, it is one of the branches of the anti-Russian tree. The government conducts an anti-Russian policy aimed at changing the foreign political vector. The ratification of the Rome Statute is one of those steps, in addition to the boycott of the CSTO summit and participation in the CIS activities. But, of course, the ratification of the Rome Statute is the most painful and drastic step. We were against its ratification, stressing that the government misjudges the foreign political impact of the statute’s ratification. The Rome Statute was not recognized by the Constitutional Court. Parliament ratified it.

– When choosing the Western vector, what does the Armenian government expect? The connection between Europe and Armenia is geographically impossible. What will you get from the West?

– The government’s policy is incomprehensible, illogical and destructive for us in many ways. In the given situation, it is impossible to go for such a drastic freezing of relations with Russia. What are they counting on, what alternatives? It is clear that the confrontation between Russia and the West is going on all over the world. The collective West and Russia are in conflict not only in Ukraine, but also in the South Caucasus, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central America. And the “scene of military operations” is not only on the borders of Russia and Ukraine. It is destructive to turn Armenia into a “theater of military operations” or a field of diplomatic and military-political declaration between Russia and the Collective West. In addition, this confrontation is increasing on the “military stage” between the Collective West and Iran.

– Nikol Pashinyan says that now Armenia will be turned into a “crossroads of the world”, the roads to Turkey and Azerbaijan will be unblocked, and Armenia will turn into a transport hub.

– It is not serious. I have been trying to get the economic justification for this project for almost two years. There is no economic justification. In other words, this is a purely political project, and Pashinyan is trying to show that he is the author of this project, but he is just a follower. The border was not closed by us, but by Turks and Azerbaijanis. They demand political concessions to open the border. What concessions, of course: Karabakh, Syunik, so-called enclaves, return of refugees. After all, they call Armenia “Western Azerbaijan”. The authors of the project are Azerbaijan and Turkey. They demand a corridor. But the status of the corridor is not clear. Pashinyan defines the corridor as extraterritorial. There is no such thing anywhere in the world. Azerbaijan and Turkey demand a way. The dream of the Pan-Turkists is to have a road from the Bosphorus to Eastern China, which will connect the Turkic-speaking countries. And in order to somehow “sell” it to the Armenian public, Pashinyan is trying to show that this project will bring economic benefit and peace to Armenia. There is no peace, there is no economic benefit.

– If this project is implemented, the Zangezur Corridor, as Azerbaijanis call it, opens, what will be the result for Armenia?

– First, the border with Iran and uninterrupted communication between Armenia and Iran will be in danger of being closed.

Secondly, the Azerbaijanis can always organize a provocation on the road and then announce that they must send in a military force to ensure the safety of vital infrastructures. Since Azerbaijanis do not feel bad in the occupied territories of Armenia, 200 square kilometers are now occupied by Azerbaijan. And they can occupy several more square kilometers.

– And then Iran will be cut off. Now Iran has offered Azerbaijan its transport corridor to communicate with Nakhichevan.

– That way exists. Nakhichevan is already connected with Azerbaijan. He is not under siege. Iran offers to use the corridor that connects Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan through the territory of Iran, and even offers to widen the road to increase cargo flow. It is clear that neither Turkey nor Azerbaijan is satisfied with this. And it is not in their interest that the roads leading from Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan are controlled by Iran. There is still the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul road. It is not in their best interest to put all their eggs in one basket. It will increase their dependence on Iran. It will be difficult to put pressure on Iran. And putting pressure on Armenia is easier.

– Some say that “the current guarantor of Armenia’s security is Iran.” Do you consider Iran as a guarantor of security?

— Iran has repeatedly stated that the territorial integrity of Armenia is a red line for it, and several times it has conducted military exercises on the border with Azerbaijan, advancing its troops to the banks of the Araks River (Araks divides Armenia and Iran), showing that it is ready to intervene. They now have a general consulate in Syunik. And the road to Iran passes through Syunik. Syunik is strategically important for everyone: Armenia, the West, and Russia. Because I am not sure that the unlimited strengthening of Turkey is beneficial for Russia.

– Pashinyan also honestly said, even before coming to power, that Armenia does not need Karabakh. “We want to hand over Karabakh, for us it is like a suitcase without a handle.” People knew who they voted for. This means that the new generation votes for peace and is completely unwilling to take decisive action.

– There is no normal person who says “I am against peace”. But what do they mean? Since the most peaceful place in the world is the cemetery, people rest in peace there. This is the peace that Azerbaijan offers to Armenia. So we don’t have a dilemma: peace or war. We have a dilemma: to resist or another genocide? Our government’s policy will not bring peace, it will bring a new genocide.