Episode 177 | Recorded: November 14, 2022
Arthur, as a diasporan who is currently in Yerevan, what does the Nov. 9/10 2020, trilateral statement mean to you?
The Armenian political scene is dominated by reverberations from that war. Whether it is the Feb. 2021 demands for Pashinyan’s resignation by the general chief of staff, the elections in June 2021, the hectic search for historic maps of the region to see just when did those Azeri enclaves appear inside Armenia, the statements from Armenia’s leaders that we actually haven’t been arming the army for 2 years, that somehow the Armenians of Artsakh are different kinds of Armenians who should negotiate their own fate with Baku without guarantees or support from Armenia proper. The invasions of May ‘21, Nov. ‘21, and the horrendous war of September 2022, the bloodiest fighting since the “official” end of hostilities two years ago, where more than 200 Armenian souls perished.
Some of the basic and only hopeful things that this cease-fire was supposed to bring us, like our POWs or even, in fact, a cease of hostilities, are like a distant dream.
So now, 2 years later, we are apparently on the verge of signing yet another document, this one called a “peace treaty”. Before we go into that, which is actually the next section of our show tonight, let’s talk about the last two years.
Arthur, some Armenians simply say that “this is the hand we are dealt” and we must play it. Everything that is happening today is a result of our loss in the war.
In other news this week, Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev are battling it out in public statements, with Aliyev threatening Armenians, and Pashinyan accusing Aliyev of beating around the bush on the peace deal, and of preparing a genocide against the Armenians of Artsakh! Unfortunately, battle was waged with not just words. The regular cease-fire violations by Azerbaijan escalated and resulted in the wounding of an Armenian serviceman earlier this week.
Tensions really escalated this week with Aliyev’s speech in occupied Shushi, while the Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations were still in the air traveling back from Washington DC, last Tuesday. Aliyev’s speech was a doozy because it not only threatened Armenia but also Iran, almost explicitly, or anyone who would dare to come to Armenia’s aid for that matter.
On the Iran front, the backdrop was set by a month of escalatory rhetoric. Last week, both Iran and Azerbaijan recalled their respective ambassadors. In response to Iran’s recent overtures towards Armenia and the public reiteration of the integrity of Armenia proper being a “red line” for Iran, a number of political parties and organizations have been activated from their slumber in Baku. The Musavat party, for instance, is threatening to hold a protest action on November 15 in Baku.
In Shushi, Aliyev essentially said that he always gets what he wants and he wants a corridor. Aliyev proclaimed “we will achieve what we want, everyone knows this, and those who conduct military exercises in support of Armenia on our border should also know this. Nobody can scare us.”
This battle of words was also joined by State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who called Iran “a threat to the region.” Some people would call Iran the main actor that’s stopping Aliyev from occupying all of Syunik now.
Meanwhile, Aliyev in a summit in Samarkand, publicly complained that “40 million Azerbaijanis” living outside Azerbaijan cannot learn their mother tongue.
What was on the menu from Aliyev for Armenia and Russia? More threats of course. Aliyev’s rhetoric was the toughest to date, where he brought up several points:
The sides are trying to paint it as a continuation of the tripartite statement. But the Sochi declaration looks to have some key points strategically missing, when compared with the previous Prague declaration.
New cease-fire violations by Azerbaijan
Where are the EU monitors?!?!? The wounding of the Armenian soldier happened within Armenia’s borders and was supposed to be exactly the type of incident meant to be observed.
When asked about this on H1, Pashinyan said that the EU monitors aren’t there to monitor the cease fire, that their mission is much deeper.
However, the EU explicitly states ceasefire as one of their goals:
In fact, it mentions the words cease fire 3 times and explicitly mentions that one of the mandates of the EUMM is to report on ceasefire violations
So why didn’t the monitors issue a statement and why did Nikol Pashinyan try to cover for them?
Despite all of the above, Pashinyan concluded his speech and interview by reminding Armenians that he’s committed to peace. “Long live the peace”.
Let’s provide some background for our listeners.
Pashinyan also said something odd that wasn’t covered in the press that much. In his address to the Civil Contract party during its annual congress and re-confirmed during this “interview” with H1. He said that one of the elements of the discussion around opening communications routes is which country’s border guards would be in charge over the Armenian portion.
He mentioned that Azerbaijan wants Russian border guards, and they don’t want to see any Armenians as they zip through their so-called “corridor” through Armenia. He said that this is against the principle of “parity” that has been agreed and if that is the case then Armenia should also demand not to see any Azerbaijanis as they go through Azerbaijan on its roads. He didn’t stop here though which would’ve been just great. He suggested that Azerbaijan could choose any third party (except Azerbaijanis) to guard the roads for Armenians. He said Azerbaijan could even ask Turkish border guards to guard the roads in Azerbaijan since Armenians have experience seeing Turkish border guards.
With Gev Iskedjyan, recorded separately on November 14, 2022.
We’re here to learn how it feels to be in Artsakh, two years after the November 2020 trilateral statement.
Two weeks ago the Renaissance Square in Stepanakert was full with a sea of people, over a third of the population of all of Artsakh, who once again told the world that they’re not going to be subjects of geopolitical barters, that their rights of self-determination and to be part of the Armenian nation, to live on their historic land, are inalienable.
The entire Artsakh conflict began with protests in the late 80s, where it seems like the entire population of Armenia was out in the streets. It was still the Soviet Union, but the institute of Samizdat was well-established at that point. I remember as not even a teenager going to visit our neighbor’s home to read the latest news or articles about Artsakh, often self-published and handed down from one person to another.
We hope you found our Week in Review helpful, we invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.
Dr. Arthur Khachikyan, an International Relations expert from Stanford University, specializing in intervention. He currently teaches at the Russian Armenian University in Yerevan.
Gev Iskajyan is the ANC Representative in Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh.
Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.
Asbed is founder of Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.