Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This show was recorded on Monday, May 23, 2022. This week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
● “Agenda of Peace” Negotiations Continue
● State of the Opposition Protests
● Iran-Armenia Relations
● CSTO Leaders Meeting in Moscow
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Benyamin Poghosyan, who is the Chairman of the Yerevan based think tank Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies,
Same here, of course. OK let’s go to our first topic.
In March, Azerbaijan published its 5-point Peace proposal to Armenia. Two weeks ago Edmon Marukyan discussed Armenia’s 6-point response, which we’ve only heard described to the Armenian press; we haven’t really seen the document itself. We’ll link to what we know in our show notes.
Over the weekend, Pashinyan, Aliyev and the EU’s co-president Charles Michel held a trilateral summit in Brussels to continue negotiations towards Pashinyan’s “Agenda of Peace”.
Today, Charles Michel put out a statement about what was achieved at the meeting. A broad summary of it:
● The Armenian-Azerbaijani border commission will meet on the border to start its work. By the way, today Azerbaijan published the makeup of its commission. And so did Armenia.
● Transport links will be unblocked: primarily referring to Azerbaijan-Nakhichevan links, but also referred to “various parts of Armenia via Azerbaijan”. Some principles were agreed upon about border administration, security, customs, and fees.
● Negotiations will continue towards a peace agreement.
● The EU will continue to advance economic development in the region, and help “prepare the populations for peace”.
What does this outcome mean?
Also over the weekend, Opposition MP Artur Ghazinyan leaked what he believes to be the 7-point draft agreement that was going to be discussed in Brussels. The seven points mentioned were:
Ghazinyan is very sure of his sources, but we have no confirmation.
There’s no secret about the fact that the two countries are discussing each other’s territorial integrity, Artsakh’s status, corridors, etc. But there were a couple of details which struck me:
● Point 4 mentions that Azerbaijan is trying to impose on Armenia some level of disarming and demilitarization.
● Point 6 prioritizes Azerbaijan-Nakhichevan unblocking over all others.
● Point 7 says that Border discussions will be based on borders that existed in 1991.
Specially the point on demilitarization seems to me to encroach on Armenia’s sovereignty. What should we make of these specific assertions?
Over the course of the past week there were a number of notable updates in relations with Iran.
● Iran and Armenia are negotiating the renewal of the 20-year “Gas for Electricity” agreement from 2004. Economist Suren Parsyan thinks that these negotiations are a consequence of Iran retaliating to a number unilateral abrogations of the agreement by Armenia.
● Iran and Armenia agreed to increase trade and cargo transportation. Armenian minister Gnel Sanosyan said that the current levels are considered low, and there is room for much greater economic activity which the new road can sustain.
● Russian deputy FM Rudenko again referred to the 3+3 platform. We thought this idea was dead.
● Turkish-Armenian Normalization representative Ruben Rubinyan updated Iran’s rep with details of the process.
● I also read on Twitter that Iran declined to visit Shushi and opted to remain at a conference in Baku.
This relationship has been deeply neglected on the part of the Pashinyan government, is there an activation of relations between Armenia and Iran afoot?
Pashinyan was in Moscow for a high-level CSTO meeting. Russian president Putin is interested in hearing from CSTO leaders about the war in Ukraine. He also proposed to grant CIS observer status in the CSTO. The CIS includes Azerbaijan.
● Should Armenia acquiesce?
● Can Armenia navigate the Ukraine war between Russia and the West and remain a neutral party?
Hovik, there was a very large march and rally on Saturday, culminating in France Square of Yerevan. We discussed these on our Live broadcast on Twitter after the rally, we also shared it in our Facebook group.
By the way, to our listeners, we have been doing almost daily (or in Yerevan, nightly, Live broadcasts on Groong’s Twitter space. We’ve talked to a lot of opposition leaders, relatives of fallen soldiers who are seeking justice in Armenian courts, and so on. Hovik and Alison Tahmizian Meuse have been conducting the nightly updates and conversations, so please follow us on Twitter in order to be notified of when we’re going on the air. You actually do not even need a Twitter account to listen, only to speak.
But anyway, for those who listen to our podcasts, Hovik can you give us a brief update on the week’s protest events? Highlights, lowlights, and any other public information on the plans going forward?
Some of the lives I’d like to highlight are:
● May 12, Karen Vrtanesyan - Policy of Division
● May 20, Yeghishe Zakunts - Tsor unit family/parents
Most notable day of the week was May 20, which started with a protest in front of the presidential residence (related to Lithuanian state visit) and ended at the Shengavit First Instance Court.
Lowlight of the week is all the political prisoners that still remain in jail and new arrests, including:
● Narek Mantashyan - accused of attempting to steal a flag
○ Nov. 10 2020
○ Prosecution fought tooth and nail and went to court only to receive permission to detain Mantashyan pre-trial in December 2021, more than one year after.
● Igor Khachaturov - accused of hitting policeman (based on one testimony)
○ Similar to Jahangiyran’s precedent-setting case, which 12 years ago was tossed out for the same reasons (according to Yervand Varosyan).
● Armen Grigoryan - insulted people on national grounds
● Тарон Манукян, Гор Саркисян, Арсен Мартоян, Гор Матевосян, Геворг Мурадян - not sure if they ended up being released or not
○ Old men provoking
○ There’s also video of one of the old men hitting protesters on the head with an egg
○ Protesters are accused of hooliganism which is a more serious crime and allows the police to detain participants for a longer period of time. The potential sentence could exceed 5 years.
● Avetik Chalabyan - bribery attempt
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.
Benyamin Poghosyan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, South Caucasus, Turkey, Russia, Transportation Links, Corridors, Borders, Peace Negotiations, Iran, Iranian Gas, Turkmenistan,, EU, European Union, CIS, CSTO, Opposition, Protests, Yerevan, France Square, JCPOA, Iran Nuclear Deal,