Episode 286 | Recorded: October 17, 2023
There is a variety of troubling news, mostly in western sources, of an impending new war being planned by Azerbaijan. A risk that we cannot exclude and must consider.
The major news pieces confirming this are:
Just today, Oct 17, in a speech in the European Parliament, Pashinyan made references to undisclosed “experts” that Azerbaijan does not recognize the territorial integrity of Armenia, which according to him consists of 29.8K sq. km., in order to prepare the grounds for military aggression.
This week, Vahagn Khachaturyan signed the ratification of the Rome Statute, something Russia repeatedly warned they would view as an extremely unfriendly gesture.
Armenia as we said also snubbed Russia and the CSTO by not attending the CSTO meetings in Bishkek. This follows months of consistent anti-Russian activity including a visit by Pashinyan’s wife to Ukraine (and the town of Bucha), Nikol Pashinyan himself visited Ukraine and met with Zelensky, he even met with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya an opposition leader in Belarus who challenges Lukashenko’s role as winner of elections.
Putin on the other hand has been very circumspect and conciliatory in his words towards Armenia. Both at the Valdai Club, and also in Bishkek, Putin at least in words said that he understands that Armenia is coping with large humanitarian problems right now. He also once again repeated that he doesn’t believe Pashinyan came to power in order to hand away Artsakh.
Of course, in those same events Putin also repeated that the principal determinant of the fate of Artsakh was Pashinyan’s own recognition. Also, most other leaders of Russia and Russian media criticize Pashinyan as an untrustworthy ally who is trying to leave Russia’s orbit.
Earlier last week, Pashinyan lowered his anti-Russian rhetoric and said Armenia is neither leaving the CSTO, nor asking Russia to pull out of Armenia. But today, in the European Parliament, he again blamed the Russia-led CSTO for leaving Armenia “all alone” after Azerbaijan attacked Armenia several times after the 2020 war. He also accused Russia of trying to interfere in Armenia’s internal affairs in the 2021 parliamentary elections by trying to replace him and install a “puppet government”.
Competition is heating up again between Brussels and Moscow regarding which venue will be the location of the so-called “peace treaty”.
In Grenada, Pashinyan signed a statement recognizing Artsakh as Azerbaijan, while Aliyev refused to attend. Even this unilateral gesture by Pashinyan, which was demanded by Aliyev, was not enough for the latter who mocked Pashinyan, Charles Michel, Olaf Scholz, and Emmanuel Macron for holding a meeting where they discussed Azerbaijan without him.
After Grenada, Russia offered to mediate at all levels; foreign ministerial, as well as the executive, in Bishkek last week. Pashinyan did not attend, nor did he join remotely. His foreign minister did not attend either.
Aliyev exploited this masterfully by asking why Armenia is rejecting mediation of Russia which is closer to both Azerbaijan and Armenia, while traveling great distances to seek mediation of Europe and declaring that Armenia does not want peace. Obviously, this is very cynical coming from someone who just finished a tour of ghost towns in occupied Artsakh, while walking on Artsakh flags in military uniform, but that’s beside the point.
Aliyev further said that as an alternative to negotiations in a format mediated by Russia, they would be willing to negotiate with Armenia directly in Georgia.
Meanwhile, Armenian officials again pinned hopes on an upcoming meeting in Brussels at the end of October, the status of which has not yet been confirmed.
A week ago, Tigran Avinyan was elected as mayor of Yerevan. His party garnered 32% of the vote, which in itself was the result of a 28% voter turnout. Yet, somehow last week the Yervean city council elected Avinyan as mayor.
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.
Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan is a senior fellow at APRI Armenia, a Yerevan based think tank,and the Chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies. He has served as the vice president for research and head of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense Research University in Armenia. Dr. Poghosyan was a Distinguished Research Fellow at the US National Defense University College of International Security Affairs. He is a graduate from the US State Department Study of the US Institutes for Scholars 2012 Program on US National Security Policy Making. He holds a PhD in history and is a graduate from the 2006 Tavitian Program on International Relations at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
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.