Azatutyun.am reported Tuesday that while in Stepanakert on Saturday, Sarkisian met with a group of Artsakh activists who played a major role in the Karabakh Liberation Movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s and discussed possible territorial concessions.
Two of them told Azatutyun.am’s Armenian Service that Sarkisian solicited their views on the idea of returning to Azerbaijan districts around Karabakh that were liberated during the Artsakh war and are part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
“He asked each of us what we think,” one of the participants, Razmik Petrosian, told Azatutyun.am.
“Ninety percent of us spoke out against such concessions. Why should we make them?” said Petrosian who added that Sarkisian insisted that neither Armenia nor Karabakh are being pressured by the Russian, U.S. and French mediators to make such concessions.
Petrosian, however, surmised that Russian sale of weapons to Azerbaijan amounts to pressure and said that Armenia was being pressured by external forces to make unilateral concessions despite Sarkisian’s assertions to the contrary.
Listen to the azatutyun.am Armenian Service report.
“We have no intention to give up lands,” another Karabakh activist, Hamlet Grigorian, told Azatutyun.am.
“Neither the Armenian president nor the Karabakh president claimed the opposite,” Grigorian added saying that the topic of territorial concessions is being imposed by external forces.
According to Grigorian, concession of any Karabakh territory signifies depleting the region of Armenians, which he called unacceptable. During the same discussion, the small swath of territory that was lost during the four-day war in April was also discussed with all agreeing that it must be reclaimed.
Sarkisian’s weekend trip to Artsakh, which he cut short due to the tense situation in Armenia, is the second such excursion after one-on-one talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev in St. Petersburg, Russia last month.
Since then, interest by highest levels of the governments representing the Minsk Group co-chairing countries has placed a greater emphasis on the conflict resolution, with, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussing a Karabakh conflict resolution as recently as last Thursday.
Last week, after meeting with the leadership of Azerbaijan in Baku, Lavrov claimed that a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was “closer than ever.” Of course, the top Russian diplomat did not qualify this statement nor did he explain what his declaration would mean for the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and its citizens.