Episode 219 | Recorded: January 29, 2023
Armenia’s Army Day is on January 28, that was yesterday. First we’d like to thank all those who’ve served, who are serving, and plan to serve, on this important milestone, the 31st anniversary of the Armenian army. Thank you!
The Armenian armed forces are the backbone of the hopes of any successful Armenian state. Let’s just be blunt: there is no future without a strong army.
Yesterday hundreds of parents and relatives of fallen soldiers were forcibly removed from Yerablur, by hundreds, by some accounts thousands, of Pashinyan’s red beret police and other guards. This was to secure Pashinyan and some of his ministers to visit the Pantheon of fallen soldiers on Army Day.
As a background note, let me add that there was absolutely zero coverage of these events in government controlled press, such as Armenpress. There were many articles in the more independent or opposition-leaning press, like 168.am..
In the aftermath of the horrible fire in the military barrack in Gegharkunik, people are feeling demoralized and are full of apprehension towards the government and how it is treating the armed forces.
It’s been additionally demoralizing to know that the government has written off the possibility of any political accountability for this incident by Pashinyan’s government. Meanwhile Pashinyan has been pushing for an incident narrative that he himself conceived of, before any investigation was even launched.
The government made an arrest this week. A deputy commander of “the base” who was in charge of supplies and accommodations was charged with failing to provide fire safety equipment.
So far there is every indication that the government plans on railroading its own narrative on this horrible accident, and shovel everything under the rug.
On Monday, the EU approved an expanded, civilian monitoring mission to the borders of Armenia. The mission was originally for 200 monitors and for 2 years, but that was reduced to 100 monitors at least for now.
We should note that these monitors are sent to Armenia, near the current line of contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As Azerbaijan has invaded sovereign Armenian territory, yet they also claim that none of their forces are on what they consider Armenian territory, and they have not approved of the EU monitors to be on the de-facto or de-jure borders between the countries.
The Armenian government has decided to station the EU monitors along the entire length of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border (including Nakhijevan).
The Armenian government has received the news very enthusiastically. Foreign Minister Mirzoyan said that the mission will contribute to peace and stability in the region.
Since May 2021, Armenia has asked CSTO to give a declaration on Azerbaijani behavior, but the CSTO has refused to get involved. The offer of sending CSTO monitors to Armenia was rejected by Armenia based on the grounds that the CSTO would not identify Azerbaijan as an aggressor country. Some individual EU countries on the other hand (e.g. France) have called Azerbaijan an aggressor.
Various EU leaders, including the leader of the French National Assembly recently said that the EU cannot provide a security umbrella to Armenia.
The Russian side has been vehemently, unequivocally negative about this mission. The latest statement came from the Russian MFA who quoted Zakharova:
_“The EU’s attempts to gain a foothold in Armenia at any cost and sideline Russia’s mediation efforts may hurt the interests of people in Armenia & Azerbaijan in their pursuit of peaceful development. Russian peacekeepers remain a key factor of regional stability.”_
Iran has also in the past put out veiled statements about foreign forces in the region, but it has been less confrontational than Russia.
OK, here we are on the 49th day of the blockade, and it looks like it may take a long time. Last weekend we saw Ruben Vardanyan’s interview on BBC Hardtalk, and he was clear as a whistle: nobody’s giving up, nobody’s going anywhere, he and the Armenians of Artsakh are at home.
On Wednesday, Pashinyan warned Artsakh’s leadership again - we’re assuming the target was Ruben Vardanyan - that they should not undermine his “agenda of peace”. Of course, Pashinyan’s peace is selling the Armenians of Artsakh down the river, with very questionable and temporary expectations in return.
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.
Arthur G. Martirosyan, who is a Senior Consultant with CM Partners. In 1994, after graduating from Yale University, he joined Conflict Management Group and Harvard Negotiation Project, and has since worked on conflicts in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, and Latin America.
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.