YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Authorities in Yerevan have informed the German ambassador that in his telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart earlier this month Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian recognized only people’s right to self-determination rather than the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
This was confirmed to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Tuesday by Ambassador Reiner Morell himself.
Sarkisian talked on the phone with Vladimir Putin on March 19, the day after Moscow and leaders of the separatist Ukrainian region of Crimea signed agreements on the strategic peninsula’s becoming part of Russia following a disputed referendum.
Sarkisian’s press office said that during the conversation the two leaders also “shared opinions regarding the crisis in Ukraine and the ways out of it.” “In that context the presidents touched upon the situation after the referendum in Crimea and stated that the latter constitutes another case of exercise of peoples’ right to self-determination via free expression of will. At the same time the Presidents highlighted the importance of commitment to the norms and principles of the international law, first and foremost the UN Charter,” it said.
Two days later Ukraine officially recalled its ambassador in Yerevan, warning of serious damage to bilateral ties and demanding an official explanation regarding the Armenian government’s acceptance of the disputed referendum in Crimea. Earlier, United States Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern voiced Washington’s disappointment with the Armenian government’s decision to effectively recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea strongly condemned by the West.
Ambassador Morell said that what the Germany embassy got from the communication with the Armenian government is the understanding that “he [President Sarkisian] wanted just to stress this right of self-determination of peoples because he was looking to the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“But we have to analyze it. Anyway, it’s not helpful in that situation. That’s for sure,” he added.
“I think the understanding was, as I said, that, yes, there is this kind of right of self-determination of peoples. Second: but with saying that, we don’t agree to the annexation of Crimea. This is what we got as an understanding from the government,” Morell further explained.
To the clarifying question whether this was information or just understanding, the German ambassador said: “No, this is information that we got here.”