Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This show was recorded on Monday, August 8, 2022.
Here are the major topics we’ll touch on today:
● Azerbaijan Attacks Artsakh Again
○ Armenian & Artsakh Authorities Evacuating Berdzor & Aghavno Population
● Avetik Chalabyan Re-arrested
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,
On Wednesday August 3, Azerbaijan carried out drone, mortar and grenade attacks against Artsakh defense positions. This was a continuation from Monday’s attacks, and two Armenian Artsakh defense forces soldiers were killed, and there were 19 injured, 4 of them seriously. One Azerbaijani soldier was killed, as well. Currently, the situation is still considered tense and just this Saturday an Armenian soldier was wounded, this time on the Armenian side in Sotk.
All these incidents were accompanied by urgent calls between Armenian and Russian leaders. Pashinyan and Putin talked on the phone two times this week, including a discussion today. Earlier in the week, foreign ministers Mirzoyan and Lavrov also had a call.
The flare up appears to center around Azerbaijan’s demand this week to stop using the Lachin/Berdzor corridor to connect Armenia and Artsakh as well as nebulous demands by Azerbaijan to remove all Armenian armed units from the territory. Armen Grigoryan, Armenia’s chair of the NSC, has called this demand “illegitimate”, and contradictory to Point 6 of the November 2020 agreement.
Azerbaijan, meanwhile, is calling this an “anti-terror operation” in retlatiaion for the alleged killing of one of their soldiers, and they claimed that they took additional hills around the Western borders of Artsakh.
We’ve said this before, it sounds like some of the “peace agenda” negotiations are not going to Aliyev’s pleasure, and when that happens he starts killing people.
● What is not going right for Azerbaijan?
The deadline to move out of Aghavno & Berdzor is now set for August 25.
● What do we know about the alternate road that Armenia is to construct?
Let’s note that just before the weekend, Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi, reportedly for a 4+ hour meeting, where the situation in Artsakh was on the agenda. Erdogan, upon his return from the summit also reiterated Azerbaijan’s demand about demilitarization, stating: “Azerbaijan naturally does not want any illegal armed elements on its territory”.
It’s interesting to note that Russia has uncharacteristically blamed Azerbaijan for violating the ceasefire multiple times this week, including for incidents that took place both on Monday and Wednesday.
● Does this mean that Azerbaijan has not coordinated with Russia about its demands on the Lachin/Bedrzor corridor?
● How far is Aliyev willing to push Russia?
● Why is there such a discrepancy between statements from different Armenian leaders about the use of the alternate road:
○ Pashinyan says there’s no agreement and that we have until Nov. 2023 to agree on a plan for the road, but in April there was a tender announced for building a road between Tegh and Kornidzor.
○ Harutyunyan says they’ve provided their agreement on the road;
○ Armen Grigoryan said in late June that there is still more than 1.5 years
○ Is it possible for the Armenian side to not have known about this bypass road, that it was being built, and that as soon as it was ready, Azerbaijan would turn on pressure to use it?
Last week we didn’t get a chance to talk about Avetik Chalabyan, who was suddenly released from jail after two and a half months of prison detention. Hours after his release, his brother Ara Chalabyan resigned from his position at the Armenian Central Bank where he had reportedly been under pressure to resign by Central Bank of Armenia president Martin Galstyan.
But the saga didn’t end there. This week a court decided to send Avetik Chalabyan back to prison while he awaits trial for his charges, even though prosecutors did not even request further detention, but rather suggested that Chalabyan may stay free on bail.
● What happened?
About the presiding judge, Mnatsakan Martirosyan: widely seen as pro-government for any current government.
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, Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan, Berdzor, Lachin, Aghavno, Nikol Pashinyan, Arayik Harutyunyan, Turkey, Russia,