Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Friday traded jabs and sparred over Karekin Njdeh during a summit of CIS leaders in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan where Pashinyan told Aliyev to become acquainted with history after the Azeri leader accused Armenia of “glorifying fascists” in reference to Njdeh, whom he claimed to be a Nazi collaborator.
Aliyev sparked the verbal altercation during the CIS summit taking issue with Njdeh statue and citing it as an example of Armenia’s glorification of fascists. Pashinyan was quick to declare that Aliyev was distorting history of Armenia and urged him to study it more carefully.
“Ilham Heydarovich’s speech leaves one with a sense that [Adolf] Hitler played a secondary role and that the Nazi movement was led by Karekin Njdeh,” Pashinyan said, according to Azatutyun.am. “Yet the truth is that KareKin Njdeh fought against Turkish occupation of Armenia, against the genocide of Armenians and … also commanded, together with many Russian officers, a very important section of the frontline during the Armenian-Turkish war in 1918.”
In his remarks, Pashinyan portrayed Njdeh as a victim of Stalin’s political repressions. “Njdeh died in the Vladimir prison [in 1955,]” he said. “Many prominent Soviet figures died in the Vladimir prison and [writer Aleksandr] Solzhenitsyn was in the Gulag. Do we consider everyone imprisoned from 1937 through the 1950s political prisoners?”
“I think it’s inappropriate to use this [CIS] format for distorting history and adding some tension to the atmosphere of this important meeting,” added Pashinyan.
This spat didn’t deter the two leaders from holding a two-hour discussion later at a dinner hosted by Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov for the summit participants.
Pashinyan’s spokesman, Vladimir Karapetian, told the Armenpress news agency that the two men discussed the Karabakh conflict and, in particular, “possibilities of reducing tensions” and “upcoming steps” in the negotiating process mediated by the United States, Russia and France. The conversation lasted for about two hours, said Karapetyan.