Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This show was recorded on Monday, October 18, 2021.
This week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
● A Flurry of Diplomatic Activity
● Results from Tavush, Shirak and Syunik
● Vaccination in Armenia
● Trust in the Authorities about Information from Border Areas
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Hrant Mikaelian, who is a political scientist and multidisciplinary researcher in social sciences at the Caucasus Institute, based in Yerevan.
Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen a flurry of diplomatic activity in Armenia and the region.
Timeline of events:
● Oct 5: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visits Moscow (and Armenia was on the agenda)
● Oct 12: Pashinyan meeting with Putin in Russia
● Oct 18 (today): EU Special Rep to the region is visiting all 3 countries
The sheer number of visits and the interest shown by India and Iran is unprecedented. What can we gather from all these goings on?
What are all the interests clashing with each other with the “North-South” corridor and the East-West corridors crossing in the south of Armenia?
We were talking with Pietro Shakarian and Benyamin Poghosyan two weeks ago, and we touched upon the so-called “Zangezur Corridor” that Aliyev talks about all the time. The consensus was that, at least for the time being, Aliyev’s definition of a “corridor” is unfettered access through Armenian territory between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. This means visa-free, customs-free, inspection-free access for people and goods through Syunik, Gegharkunik, etc.
What goals is Aliyev’s pursuing here?
What are the threats to Armenia’s economy with all these corridors, and uncontrolled opening of trade relations and communications?
Over the past weekend, various cities in three Armenian provinces of Shirak, Syunik, and Tavush) held municipal elections. The ruling Civil Contract party was only able to secure victories in some of the small towns, such as Dilijan as well as the Tegh and Tatev communities in Syunik. That said, it lost in many of the larger and more strategic electoral battles, specifically Armenia’s second largest city Gyumri as well as southern cities of Goris and Meghri.
In Gyumri the vote was plagued by a low 24% voter turnout, where just over 26,000 of the eligible 109,000 voters cast a ballot:
● The Balasanyan Alliance, supported by incumbent mayor of Gyumri Samvel Balasanyan, won with 9637 votes (36.59%)
● Civil Contract garnered 7785 votes (29.6%)
● Zartonk National Christian Party received 2793 votes (10.6%)
● Republican Party of Armenia received 1333 votes (5.1%)
● Aprelu Yerkir party took 1489 votes (5.7%)
In Goris, where the voter turnout was at 50.25%, the Arush Arushanyan alliance scored a landslide victory:
● Arush Arushanyan Alliance (60.28%)
● Civil Contract party (34.3%)
● Armenian National Congress (2.7%)
The alliance is named after the incumbent mayor Arush Arushanyan who is a prominent opposition figure allied with the Reviving Armenia party in Syunik. Arushanyan is currently in pretrial custody under suspicion of violating electoral code in the June 20, 2021 elections - the opposition rejects this charge as politically motivated.
● The Republic Party led by Aram Zaveni Sargsyan (not to be confused with the “Republican Party of Armenia”) won with 42.8%
● Civil Contract party (32.8%)
● Liberal Party (14.4%)
● Aprelu Yerkir party (9.8%).
Who is “The Balasanyan Alliance”?
Who are Aprelu Yerkir, who have cleared the 4% threshold for parties in elections?
When are the next Yerevan municipal elections?
What do the results in these two important cities mean for the parties in their struggle against the government?
We’re currently going through what may be a seasonal up-swing globally, not just in Armenia for the virus. The most recent data indicate the country’s vaccination stats to be around 588,000 vaccine shots administered;185,000 people have received two doses and around 400,000 have received a single dose so far.
In general, how is the course of the fight against COVID, and the vaccination process in Armenia?
That was our Week in Review show, and we hope it helped you catch up with some of the issues in and around Armenia from this past week. As always, we invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our website Groong.org.
Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on Youtube, Like our pages and follow us on social media. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
Hrant Mikaelian, Armenia, Azerbaijan, East-West corridor, North-South Corridor, INSTC, Zangezour Corridor, Yerevan, Baku, Gyumri, Meghri, Municipal Elections, South Caucasus, Turkey, Russia, Communication channels, Corridors, Borders, Peace Negotiations,