Today we’re going to talk with Anna Abrahamian about two or three topics.
Episode 230 | Recorded: February 24, 2023
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.
On the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin gave a hallmark speech.
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”.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.