Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review.
I’m Asbed Bedrossian and along with Hovik Manucharyan, This Week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
● Border update, and Leaked documents
● Azerbaijan membership in the CSTO?
● New MPG Poll and Elections
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Emil Sanamyan who is a senior research fellow at USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies specializing in politics in the Caucasus.
As we discussed last week, starting on May 12, Azerbaijan began an incursion into territories that formerly belonged to Armenia. Currently some Armenian territories are under Azerbaijani control, and there have been brawls & shootouts between soldiers. What is happening on the border?
Meanwhile, there was another leak of a document. The first version leaked by Minasyan contained a lot of redacted text, but Minasyan alleged that Pashinyan wishes to hand over former Azerbaijani exclaves in Armenia in preparation for recognition of Azerbaijan’s borders and establishment of diplomatic relations. The Azerbaijani enclaves sit directly on two important transport routes for Armenia.
During the week Tatul Hakobyan warned the Prime Minister not to sign documents against Armenian national interests.
A new leak of a full un-redacted document which didn’t seem to corroborate Minasyan’s statements. Minasyan claimed that the document he had is an older version.
What’s the significance of the document? Did the first version of the Nov. 9 Agreement, published on the Russian MFA website contain references to villages in Ghazakh?
After the leak of the document, the parliamentary opposition invited a special session of the parliament to discuss a new law that would prevent such territorial negotiations unilaterally by Pashinyan.
The measure failed of course, but during the discussions in Parliament Pashinyan seemed to confirm that there is such a document, and he intends to sign it. However, he disputed Mikael Minasyan’s narrative and said that they simply are starting negotiations. However, Pashinyan also made references to Artsvashen (which is an Armenian exclave in Azerbaijan) arguing that maybe it's worthwhile to discuss the exchanging Artsvashen in exchange for Azerbaijani exclaves?
Is Artsvashen of any significance? Is it possible to consider this as a fair exchange?
The parliamentary opposition argues that the issue of exclaves should be considered as an international agreement, which according to Armenian law requires a review by the constitutional court. Further, any change to Armenia’s borders requires a referendum per Armenia’s constitution.
Can Pashinyan legally conduct such negotiations? If not, then does Armenia have any recourse to reverse things if Pashinyan goes through with it? What are Russia’s calculations here? If Pashinyan legally cannot sign such a document, then wouldn’t Russia incur international risk by participating as a mediator in such a deal?
Around the same time as the documents leaked, Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is ready for a peace deal with Armenia, if the latter recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity including Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.
Would Pashinyan recognize Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan? Even without him, is Armenia headed towards an “imposed peace”?
Today, there was a statement by the deputy foreign minister of Russia Andrey Rudenko who argued that the doors to Azerbaijan’s membership in CSTO should be opened. He did provide a caveat however that first diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan must exist, but he seemed confident that “sooner or later” this will happen.
Where is Rudenko’s optimism coming from?
A new MPG poll was published last week indicating that Kocharyan is gaining traction against Pashinyan.
Findings: (change from Apr)
● Pashinyan (27.2% -> 24.8%)
● Kocharyan (8.1% -> 14.3%)
● Intent to participate: (62.7% -> 74%)
Margins for May poll (± 3.5%)
Who'd you vote for this Sunday: (Mar -> Apr -> May)
Do you plan to participate in 6/20 elections? (Mar -> Apr -> May)
● Definitely yes: 41.2% -> 48.3% -> 55.7%
● Likely yes: 10.7% -> 14.4% -> 18.3%
● Likely no: 15.0% -> 20.2% -> 10.8%
● Definitely no: 15.9% -> 13.5% -> 13.9%
● Difficult to respond: 17.2% -> 3.7% -> 1.2%
Summary of intent to participate: (Mar -> Apr -> May)
● YES: 52.9% -> 62.7% -> 74%
● NO: 30.9% -> 33.7 -> 24.7%
What do these dynamics tell us?
Meanwhile during the Bright Armenia congress which took place on Saturday, Edmon Marukyan raised questions about whether elections would happen at all. Many in the opposition allege that Bright Armenia is in cahoots with Nikol on many issues and fear that Marukyan is preparing ground for Nikol to cancel the elections, potentially by declaring martial law related to issues happening on the border.
Is canceling the elections possible now?
That concludes our program for This Week in Review episode. We hope it has helped your understanding of some of the issues from the previous week. We look forward to your feedback, and your suggestions for issues to cover in greater depth. Contact us on our website, at groong.org, or on our Facebook Page “ANN - Groong”, or in our Facebook Group “Groong - Armenian News Network”.
Special thanks to Laura Osborn for providing the music for our podcast. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channels, Like our pages and follow us on social media. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
Emil Sanamyan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Artsakh, Karabakh, Syunik, Gegharkunik, border incursions, Mikael Minasyan, Ghazakh, Tigranashen, Verin Voskepar, enclaves, exclaves, Artsvashen, CSTO, MPG, poll, elections, Nikol Pashinyan, Robert Kocharyan, Civil Contract, Gagik Tsarukyan, Edmon Marukyan, Republican Party of Armenia, Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Prosperous Armenia Party, Bright Armenia Party, Reviving Armenia Party, Ilham Aliyev