According to RFE / RL’s Armenian Service, a group of disgruntled citizens gathered outside the Foreign Ministry ahead of Lavrov’s visit to protest against Russia, which has seen more and more people in Armenia take responsibility for last year’s 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh and its catastrophic consequences for Armenia.
“It is clear that the attitude of the politically active segment of the Armenian society towards the visit of the Russian Minister is very unequivocal. First of all, Lavrov’s name is connected with the so-called settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh. “The plan was a Russian-Turkish deal at the expense of Armenia’s interests,” Armenian analyst Ruben Mehrabyan told RFE / RL.
There is talk of a Moscow-mediated peace plan for Nagorno-Karabakh, which was met with angry protests by Armenian citizens who arrived in Armenia in April 2016.
The situation is dividing line and not only
Armenia says that if not for Lavrov’s plan at the time, there would have been neither a four-day war in 2016 nor a 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020, which ended with the loss of vast territory under Armenian control and heavy casualties.
Thousands of people have been killed on both sides in the renewed armed conflict between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan since September 27, 2020.
As a result of the 44-day war, Azerbaijan regained control of parts of Karabakh and surrounding areas, four districts that have been in the hands of ethnic Armenians since 1994.
On November 10, the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, mediated by Russia, signed a joint ceasefire agreement, as a result of which Armenia returned three more districts to Azerbaijan – Aghdam, Kelbajar and Lachin.
An agreement reached by the conflicting parties in the same statement soon led to the deployment of a 2,000-strong Russian military force in Nagorno-Karabakh to secure a ceasefire agreement.
“If there was no such result due to the war, the Russian peacekeepers would not have stood there. On the other hand, the Russian peacekeeping force is there on the basis of a tripartite statement. I repeat this is not even an agreement but just a statement. And the Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh do not even have an international mandate. “And these are facts that show that, from an average statistical perspective, it is impossible to consider the situation in Karabakh stable,” said Ruben Mehrabyan.
In addition to the Karabakh border, the situation is tense in the Syunik region of Armenia, which borders Azerbaijan and Iran, where, according to the acting Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, the Russian 102nd (Gyumri) base has recently become two strongholds.
According to Fashinin, the protection of the Armenian border is carried out through the efforts and forces of the Armenian-Russian joint group. “This is an additional guarantee not only for the Syunik region, but also for the security of Armenia,” Nicole Fashinyan said on May 3.
The Acting Prime Minister of Armenia also spoke about the establishment of strongholds in Syunik at the April 14 parliamentary session. According to Fashinyan, the Armenian-Russian military alliance will become a crucial element of Armenia’s external security.
These words of Nikol Fashinyan, addressed to Russia, came as a surprise to many in Armenia, where the existence of the Russian 102nd base on the territory of Gyumri is still the subject of controversy. Between 1995 and 2015, 11 Gyumri residents were killed in incidents involving Russian troops.
The tragedy that befell the Avetisyan family on the night of January 12, 2015 had the greatest resonance. A deserter fleeing from Russia’s 102nd military base, Valery Permyakov, shot dead six members of his family, including a 2-year-old girl.
A difficult period
Following the autumn war of 2020 and the tripartite declaration of November 9-10, which many in Armenia call the “Capitulation Agreement,” a difficult period has come in the country’s political life. On the one hand, Armenia has become even more dependent on Russian military assistance, and on the other hand, there is a critical understanding of why Russia did not intervene and why it did not take the side of a strategic partner at the beginning of the armed conflict.
“The difficulty of the process lies in the fact that, on the one hand, as a result of this war, Russia’s presence has indeed become larger, and Armenia’s resistance to Russia’s neo-imperial ambitions has been significantly reduced. At the same time, the Armenian political class has already begun to ask direct questions, something that previously only small groups of people did. Among them, the Prime Minister of Armenia directly states when he speaks about this problem … It is true that Russia is our partner, but we must understand that countries that are hostile to us, namely Turkey and Azerbaijan, are not considered hostile by Russia. Moreover, relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan are far more valuable to Russia than relations with Armenia. In other words, we must understand that the contours are clearly outlined, that the interests of Russia and Armenia are already completely different interests, and the questions are being asked in this context today, “Ruben Mehrabyan said.
But in addition to these questions, the people of Armenia must answer in two months the most important question for the political future of the country – which political force will give the mandate to run the country in the early parliamentary elections scheduled for June 20?
In the sixth month of a bitter political crisis caused by the defeat in the 44-day war, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has resigned, officially paving the way for parliamentary elections to ease the political crisis created after last year’s war with Azerbaijan.
After talks with the opposition, Fashinyan agreed to hold early elections in June.
Polls show that support for Fashinian’s government has fallen sharply in recent years – from 60 per cent to about 30 per cent.
“Based on the public mood, I subjectively think that the political force under the current Prime Minister, Nikol Fashinyan, will still win and the distribution of forces in the parliament will change. This, of course, does not provide relief from the political crisis in the mountains, but it is the first very important step towards overcoming the crisis. And then we will have to do a very difficult job. It is a new understanding of what happened and drawing practical conclusions. I want to point out that whether we like it or not, it all happens during Joe Biden’s presidency, when the US has completely different priorities from the previous administration. In particular, it is that authoritarian regimes are declared a threat to U.S. national security. And despite all its shortcomings, in this respect Armenia, as an unconditionally democratic country, is an integral part of this free world and not an integral part of its adversary. This is the main thing, “Ruben Mehrabiani told RFE / RL.
Meanwhile, the political process in Armenia is developing by its own internal logic.
On May 3, the Armenian parliament rejected the candidacy of incumbent Prime Minister Nikol Fashinyan for the post of new head of government as the first step in an agreement to lay the groundwork for early elections next month.
If he fails to win the support of Fashinian MPs in the second round of voting on May 10 – as expected – the parliament will be dissolved and President Armen Sargsyan will call early elections in June.
Earlier, Nicole Fashinani said that in order to follow the formal procedure, she would run twice for the post of Prime Minister in the Parliament and hoped that the agreement would not be violated by other parliamentary factions. That is, they will not nominate their candidates for the post of Prime Minister.
Armenia’s two opposition factions have vowed that such a thing will not happen.