“The Armenian authorities are trying to bury the issue of status of Artsakh” -Arthur Khachatryan
More than 120,000 people remain trapped in the Republic of Artsakh (or Nagorno-Karabakh) due to Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor, as this crisis enters its 15th day.
This interview is a continuation of the collaboration between Groong and 168 Hours aiming to bring you more English-language coverage on the developments of this very seriou s humanitarian crisis in progress.
Episode 193 | Recorded: December 26, 2022
Let’s begin our discussion with what transpired on Friday the 23rd, in Moscow. The foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia were originally scheduled to meet in a trilateral meeting there, and the agenda was about the so-called “peace negotiations” between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Russian foreign minister Lavrov announced to the media that Ararat Mirzoyan canceled at the last minute, and so only Azerbaijan’s Jeyhun Bayramov and Lavrov met.
Mostly, the Armenian government has been on a global diplomatic offensive during the Artsakh blockade. Last Monday the UN security council convened at Armenia’s request to discuss the situation in Artsakh. We heard a lot of statements from UNSC members bemoaning the crisis, urging the reopening of the Lachin corridor, but what we didn’t hear was condemnation of Azerbaijan or resolutions by the UNSC mandating remediation.
On Saturday, the Foreign Ministry slammed Ilham Aliyev for the statements he made during a meeting with people from so-called “western Azerbaijan”. Our MFA stated:
_“...aggressive actions carried out by Azerbaijan against the people of Nagorno Karabakh are part of the consistent policy of ethnic cleansing of the people of Nagorno Karabakh.”_
Yet despite such statements, Pashinyan’s foreign policy continues to pursue solutions that leave Artsakh inside Azerbaijan. Additionally, Pashinyan’s government exerts pressure on the Armenian parliament to NOT include statements that promote the right of Artsakh to determine its own fate, and consummate its independence.
Some politicians and analysts, such as Avetik Chalabyan, say that without engaging the military, Armenia will not be able to unblock the corridor. What can Armenia do?
Your alliance, the Hayastan (or Armenia) Alliance, and generally the parliamentary opposition has been very publicly critical of how Pashinyan and his team are handling this crisis, and the cause of Artsakh in general.
The opposition repeatedly says that a critical requirement to reverse the country’s downhill slide since the disastrous loss in the 44-day war is regime change. The Armenian opposition held rallies in the spring of 2022 trying to unseat Pashinyan. Yet, these efforts were not successful.
Yesterday, Sunday, there were mass rallies in Artsakh. Tens of thousands attended to demand freedom of movement and reopening of their link with Armenia. The rallies were organized by the government, and state minister Ruben Vardanyan addressed the protestors.
It’s interesting to note how virulently negative Azerbaijan’s leadership and press has been towards Vardanyan. They discuss everything from calling him a Russian puppet, to assassinating him! (of course, nobody holds them accountable for such terroristic public expressions)
Jeyhun Bayramov last week said that Artsakh officials used to be a lot more cooperative before Vardanyan was appointed minister of state.
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Arthur Khachatryan, is an MP from the Hayastan (Armenia) alliance and member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF Dashnaktsutyun). In the past, he held government posts such as Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, Governor of Shirak, and Minister of Agriculture.
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.