Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Emil Sanamyan, a senior research fellow at USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies specializing in politics in the Caucasus, with a special focus on Azerbaijan.
Alen Zamanyan who follows and has analyzed Armenian politics for over a decade.
Former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian made some shocking revelations after his visit to Syunik earlier this week. He published a document that Armenia had allegedly secretly signed with Azerbaijan and Russia on the use of segments of a highway in Syunik bordering Zangelan and Kubatli.
The document seems to answer many of the questions raised over the past few months around the mysterious withdrawal of Armenian and advancement of Azerbaijani border guards in the region despite the Nov 10 agreement specifying that both sides remain standing in the positions they occupy. Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan indirectly confirmed this in a parliament question and answer session when he did admit that besides the Nov. 10 and January 11 statements, there is a third agreement covering the border highway in Syunik. He also mentioned that he can’t say anything more about it in an open session of the parliament because of the secret nature of the issue.
We have talked extensively about demarcation and delimitation in previous episodes of this podcast, how is this issue being revealed to the public.
The purported document specifies a date of December 18, 2020 for the withdrawal of Armenian troops. Yet, in an interview to Armenian Public TV on Dec. 27, Pashinyan denied the existence of any document on Syunik and mentioned that the repositioning of troops around Zangelan and Gubatli is based on VERBAL agreements.
Why is the government of Armenia apparently obsessed with secrecy when this document appears to be in the hands of Russian and Azerbaijani troops and being shown to whomever requests to see it?
Meanwhile, the Armenian National Security Service has announced that any news coverage from Syunik must be done with prior permission from the NSS.
What is the legal basis for such a request? Does this mean that we will be hearing about more “surprises” about Syunik in the future?
Earlier this week Arayik Harutyunyan met with the head of the Azerbaijani NSS. The official announcement says that they spoke about return of prisoners, search for the missing and “other humanitarian issues”?
What was talked about that hasn’t been announced?
We also read earlier that visitors to Artsakh - with the exception of Armenian citizens - will now be required to obtain permission from Russian peacekeepers.
It wasn’t specified how the Russians would determine eligibility for issuing visas but is it safe to assume that the Azerbaijani government will be responsible for the final OK of visas?
In other news, the Artsakh government announced plans to build 200 houses in the Astghashen community of the Askeran region intended for homeless families of the region. Post war reconstruction will require significant investment and financial load on the government especially considering other major expenditures such as reorganization of the army to a contract-based one and the significant loss of income sources (such as farmland in Hadrut, hydroelectric power stations).
Who will foot the bill for this reconstruction?
Given Artsakh’s post-war position, what economic tools are at the disposal of the government in Artsakh to help fund this reconstruction.
We should briefly mention that around the time we recorded our podcast last Sunday discussing the issue of snap parliamentary elections, the ruling My Step parliamentary faction announced cancellation of their plans for snap elections, citing “lack of popular demand” for elections and that the parliamentary opposition had rejected the idea of snap elections.
How sincere is the government in its offer to
hold snap elections, or is it simply a maneuver to take some steam out of the
opposition’s momentum, a ploy to slow them down?
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.
Syunik, Hrant Bagratian, Zangelan, Kubatli, Azerbaijan, Russia, Tigran Avinyan, National Security Service, Arayik Harutyunyan, Russian peacekeepers, Astghashen, Askeran, Hadrut, My Step, Civil Contract