Anna Abrahamian: Munich Security Conference | Artsakh [EP230]

Posted on Friday, Feb 24, 2023 | Category: Armenia, Artsakh, Politics | Series: cog

Today we’re going to talk with Anna Abrahamian about two or three topics.

  • The Munich Security Conference 2023.
  • We’ll touch on Russian president Putin’s state of the federation address.
  • The latest political developments in Artsakh.

Guest:

  • Anna Abrahamian, a geopolitical analyst who splits her time between Moscow and Athens. Having obtained training in international law, Anna has worked in such noteworthy institutions as the Defense Analyses Institute in Athens as well as the Crisis Group in Brussels. Today, Anna provides her analysis on geopolitics and Armenian politics to her followers on social media.

Hosts:

  • Asbed Bedrossian TW/@qubriq
  • Hovik Manucharyan TW/@HovikYerevan

Episode 230 | Recorded: February 24, 2023

Show Notes

Discussion

Munich

For a lot of Armenians, last weekend’s Annual Munich Security Conference was defined by the humiliating scenes of Aliyev calling Pashinyan and Armenians “occupiers” and “capitulants”. We’ll go into the Armenian aspect of Munich, but we wanted to talk to you about more global developments.

For instance, the US tried to raise warnings to China about supporting Russia in Ukraine.

Questions:

  • Can you summarize what the Munich Security Conference means for the world? What were some of the major developments there?

On the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin gave a hallmark speech.

Question?

  • How would you evaluate Putin’s speech? What do you think of the prospects of the Russia- West confrontation?
  • What does Putin’s recall of the national security strategy mean for us? Since that document included recognition of territorial integrity of Moldova and even cooperation in the OSCE Minsk Group.

While the focus was heavily on the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, it seems that Western leaders also paid attention to our region. Both Pashinyan and Aliyev attended the Munich conference. Each of them met with EU co-president Charles Michel, and they also had a trilateral meeting with US secretary of state Anthony Blinken.

French president Macron said that the ongoing conflicts in the South Caucasus and other places can not be ignored. He mentioned Nikol Pashinyan, referring to him as his friend and that he was always going to support him. He also said that France sees Armenia as a buffer against “neo-colonial Russia”.

Questions:

  • Some say that this attention from the west is a good thing and Armenia can use that as a counter-balance to regional powers. Others fear that Armenia may be turned into the next Ukraine, as a “buffer” to Russia. What are your thoughts about this?
  • What are you thoughts about the meetings and “dialogue” between Pashinyan and Aliyev? Was it a wise idea to hold these public panels with the enemy leader?

Artsakh

OK let’s turn our attention to the latest developments in Stepanakert.

After nearly a month of hearing the swirling speculation and political rumors, it finally happened: state minister Ruben Vardanyan was sacked by Artsakh president Arayik Harutyunyan just yesterday, after he had appointed him to the post on November 4, 2022.

Two or three weeks ago news came out that some Artsakh officials had traveled not only to Armenia, but were also in Russia. Then Harutyunyan came back and launched an initiative to amend the constitution of Artsakh, to allow the parliament to appoint a president if he resigned during martial law. This led to speculation that he wanted to resign, and not leave Artsakh in a constitutional crisis in the middle of the blockade. Then Ruben Vardanyan returned to Stepanakert a week ago, and the Azeri demands for his departure from not only office, but also Artsakh, crescendoed and hit a peak in Munich with Aliyev insulting Vardanyan and saying he would not negotiate with Russian puppets over Artsakh.

Question:

  • What are your thoughts about Ruben Vardanyan’s removal?

It seems like Pashinyan lined up with Aliyev to demand Vardanyan’s ouster. One Civil Contract MP, Gagik Melkonyan, last week said that “Vardanyan must go even if that means that Armenians bowed to Aliyev”.

Let’s listen to a clip from that interview:

I guess we should be surprised, capitulation is a lifestyle for the current government.

Reportedly Pashinyan was so concerned with Vardanyan’s appearance in Artsakh that he asked Putin if he supported Vardanyan, and Putin said he did not.

A day before Vardanyan’s sacking, Samvel Babayan made an appearance in Artsakh and gave an interview to Artsakh State TV. He publicly said that he wants to be appointed as state minister and he could show results in just 100 days.

Then he made some eyebrow raising statements, such as that Artsakh can help Aliyev get rid of Russians from the region and the key to that lies with Artsakh. And this is why Aliyev would be interested in talking to Artsakh.

He said that this would be possible by raising confidence building measures between Armenians and Azeris.

Let’s listen to a few clips from this interview:

Questions:

  • For our listeners who don’t know, who is Samvel Babayan? Let’s say that Samvel Babayan’s (or is it Nikol Pashinyan’s) brilliant strategy succeeds and Russian peacekeepers are out while Artsakh army is demilitarized, what does he expect Aliyev to do then?
  • Can we assume here that Samvel Babayan is the agent of Pashinyan’s “era of peace”? Was Babayan auditioning in front of Ilham Aliyev?
  • We’ve seen Pashinyan in the past send out statements, where he said that if Artsakh Armenians are given security guarantees, then perhaps Artsakh could be demilitarized. Is this a continuation of this line of thought?

Despite what appears to be a Pashinyan political win here, according to polls, Vardanyan is the most trusted and popular figure in Artsakh. He says he’s planning to stay there, despite admitting that there is pressure on him to leave.

Questions:

  • Should he stay?
  • What can he achieve there?
  • At this point in time, what does a solution look like for Artsakh, in your view?

Wrap-up

That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode**. **As always we invite your feedback, Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Guests

Anna Abrahamian

Anna Abrahamian

Anna Abrahamian is a geopolitical analyst who splits her time between Moscow and Athens. Having obtained training in international law, Anna has worked in such noteworthy institutions as the Defense Analyses Institute in Athens as well as the Crisis Group in Brussels. Today, Anna provides her analysis on geopolitics and Armenian politics to her followers on social media and you can find her on various platforms, including Facebook, Telegram, and Youtube.

Hosts

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan

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 Bedrossian

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.