Episode 252 | Recorded: May 9, 2023
Today is May 9, which in Armenia is a major holiday called the triple-holiday, combining Victory Day (the allied victory in WWII), the establishment of the self-defense forces of Artsakh (1992), and the day of liberation of Shushi (also in 1992). Obviously, in past times it was a much more joyous occasion.
We know there were events both in Armenia and Artsakh.
Undoubtedly the big story of this past week was the lightning-fast coordinated meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in DC, under the auspices of the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The results vary depending on who you ask.
Meanwhile, yesterday a summit was announced in Brussels between Aliyev, Pashinyan and EU co-president Charles Michel. And today, Pashinyan was in Moscow.
The DC meeting materialized on calendars very suddenly, after Armenia had confirmed a meeting of the foreign ministers in Moscow. It happened so fast that everyone and probably including the Russian MFA were momentarily confused as to who’s meeting whom and where. Next thing we know Ararat Mirzoyan was meeting Jeyhun Bayramov in DC for 3+ days, which yielded uncertain results.
At the end Blinken assessed the progress made as “significant”, while Pashinyan was less enthusiastic, assessing the distance in terms of reaching agreement between the two sides as 990 meters to the previous 1,000.
Apparently the major areas of differences are about the international security mechanisms for Artsakh, and also about Azerbaijan’s willingness to recognize Armenian sovereignty on Pashinyan’s “29,800” sq.km. And by the way, these differences were confirmed just yesterday by national security chair Armen Grigoryan, who said that there was no progress on those issues.
Pashinyan commented on the Washington talks during his state visit to Prague. He also spoke at the Prague Center for Transatlantic Relations.
An audience member asked Pashinyan why Armenia was not applying the principle of “Remedial Secession”. Pashinyan completely failed to answer the question and simply babbled on his “commitment to negotiations” despite Baku’s “intentions of ethnic cleansing”. He pretty much made the point for the questioner that Remedial Secession should be exercised.
Pashinyan took the opportunity of a question to further bash Russia and the CSTO as having failed in their obligations to Armenia. Then he said he will be in Moscow and yesterday, Monday, he was in fact in Moscow.
At the same time, the EU issued a press-release announcing a meeting in Brussels on May 14 between Pashinyan, Aliyev, and Charles Michel together with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany. So things are moving fast.
Today we also read that there may be yet another trilateral summit between Pashinyan and Aliyev in Moscow, after the Brussels summit. This time with Putin.
In April James DeWitt, the director of the Armenian branch of the International Republican Institute (IRI), was in Yerevan, probably to inform the Armenian authorities that their latest poll results would be out shortly, and well the results didn’t look good for them.
See also: Опрос IRI в Армении: большинство недовольно текущей ситуацией by Hrant Mikaelian
Hrant, you performed a comparative analysis of post-revolutionary “euphoria” using data from this poll, looking at data from Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Tunisia and Armenia. What can you tell us about the similarities and differences in euphoria in these countries?
Only church and police get more than 50% approval ratings. All others do not pass.
The drop in the rating of the Army seems to be continuing to plummet. In 2019, the army had a 91% approval rating and was the #1 institution. Today, it has a 40% approval rating and a 59% antirating.
To the question: What are the greatest achievements of this government, three quarters of the respondents could not say what they would be. 42% said “none”, 21% said “hard to say”, and 10% said “other”. Those who mentioned achievements listed things like “diplomatic ties”, “road improvements”, etc. and all items were in the single figures.
Meanwhile to the question of what the greatest failures of this government were, 55% of the respondents listed items concerning national security in one form or another, for example, the closure of the Lachin/Berdzor corridor, the failure of the cause of Artsakh, border security, territorial losses, uncertain state of the armed forces, losses in the army, and foreign policy. 6% of respondents said there were no failures by the government, and 21% said it was hard to say.
Additionally, respondents listed these same failures as line items that need to be improved in the coming 6 months.
Slides 34 & 48: The ruling party’s flagship cause is anti-corruption. Pashinyan came to power in 2018 promising a complete eradication of corruption. Last year in fact he claimed that “systemic corruption” no longer existed in Armenia: This poll indicates that 79% believe either there is no progress, or can’t say what progress there is. All progress areas are in single-figures.
According to the government there was a near 14% growth in the economy last year, yet people feel the economy is doing worse now.
NOTE: WE DID NOT GET TO THE SLIDES BELOW IN THE SHOW DUE TO TIME CONSTRAINTS, SKIP TO THE “CENSUS” SECTION.
Pashinyan approval tanks from 82% to 38%, disapproval goes 17→ 61% while civil contract polls at a max of 21% in slides 18 & 19.
The questions about political parties and political figures show a continuing decline in the ratings of all major players across the board, specifically considering Nikol Pashinyan and his Civil Contract party, as well as the parliamentary opposition.
Hrant, the headline of the IRI Poll read as: “IRI Armenia Poll Shows Concerns over National Security, Sharp Divisions on Russia, Improving Relations with Turkey”
The first two points in their headline seem to be intuitive. But the third point, that relations with Turkey are improving, seems to be a bit in contrast with what is going on today. But the poll results apparently indicate that 23% believe that the current state of the relationship between Armenia and Turkey is “good”, which is an increase from December 2021.
The Armenian Census Bureau released its preliminary numbers on April 23. On October 13, 2022, the permanent population is estimated to be 2.929 million people. The current residents amounted to 2.639 million.
The trend over a quarter century still looks down. The numbers were 3.2 & 3.0 million in 2001, and 3.0 & 2.9 in 2011.
Here is the Armenian Census 2022 page on Facebook.
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.
Hrant Mikaelian, a political scientist and multidisciplinary researcher in social sciences based in Yerevan. He is also a senior researcher at the Caucasus Institute.
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.