Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This Week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
● Gas through Azerbaijan [ArmRadio]
● Military exercises by Armenia and Azerbaijan [EurasiaNet]
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
David Davidian, who is a Lecturer at the American University of Armenia. He has over a decade of experience in technical intelligence analysis at major high technology firms. David was the first person to use the internet for Armenian causes.
Emil Sanamyan, who is a senior research fellow at USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies specializing in politics in the Caucasus, with a special focus on Azerbaijan.
Well after weeks of delays, head of the Barkavaj Hayastan party Gagik Tsarukyan and prime minister Pashinyan finally met, following which Pashinyan announced that Armenia will hold early parliamentary elections on June 20th.
If you’ll recall, Tsarukyan had said he didn’t want to meet Pashinyan, rather he wanted him to resign. What changed?
Pashinyan and My Step had been working on a new electoral reform bill before the snap elections. It appears that Pashinyan has now backed off from carrying out those reforms before the elections.
Why were these proposed reforms important enough to become a matter of horse trading between the ruling party and the opposition, and finally unlocking the gridlock around the early elections?
News of early elections were positively received in Turkey; Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Parliament Ahmet Berat Çonkar stated that Ankara welcomes Pashinyan's decision on early parliamentary elections in Armenia. Even Erdogan chimed in on Armenia’s internal affairs saying that the Armenian people have a right to make their choice.
Meanwhile, Pashinyan has started visiting the regions, probably starting his reelection campaign. He told the crowds that opening regional communications is good for Armenia and Azerbaijan. He also said that Armenia is perceived as an enemy in the region because it perceives enemies - meaning Turkey and Azerbaijan. He said: there’s no telling where the starting point of all this enmity is.
How can Pashinyan not remember where the enmities started? There are at least 1.5 million reasons.
Earlier in the week, Ilham Aliyev also noted that he’s ready for open communications with Armenia. This was a day before the Gazprom announcement. A day later Gazprom announced that gas to Armenia would be re-routed through Azerbaijan, during the time when the pipeline section going through Georgia is undergoing maintenance.
The pipeline systems of Armenia and Azerbaijan are not connected to our knowledge. Is this a test by Russia of Aliyev’s will to be open and cooperative?
Coincidentally, it was mentioned that the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant is going offline for 5 months for repairs around the same time as the Gazprom rerouting, and he director of the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant raised alarm alluding to the fact that the previously announced 10-year extension of the operating life for the 2nd bloc of the plant was at risk, meaning that the plant would cease operation by 2026. This was followed by more optimistic news from the Russian side assuring that they will support the plant until 2036. However, Vardanyan is quoted as saying that the plans for extension are preliminary.
Armenia does have some strategic reserves for oil and gas, but can it afford to have this energy dependence on Azerbaijan?
Last year Armenia refused a loan from Russia related to the 10-year life extension. Why?
On March 10th Azerbaijan announced military exercises to start on March 15th - an unusually short lead time. The drills were a near repeat of its exercises of May 2020. Probably in response, on March 12th Armenia announced military exercises to start on March 16th.
The exercises are done and thankfully passed without incident. But what’s the deal with these dueling military exercises? Don’t these events raise the regional temperature, where the slightest error could spark clashes? Or is that the point?
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.
Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, Early elections, June 20, Gagik Tsarukyan, Edmon Marukyan, Robert Kocharyan, Elections, Snap Elections, My Step, Bright Armenia, Prosperous Armenia, Nuclear Power Plant, Military Exercises, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Syria, Russia,
Additional: David Davidian, Emil Sanamyan, Ceasefire, Ceasefire Agreement,