Episode 290 | Recorded: October 27, 2023
Mr Zourabian, You are the Vice President of the Armenian National Congress (ANC) Հայ Ազգային Կոնգրես (ՀԱԿ) party.
As a young journalist Nikol Pashinyan was allied with the Armenian National Movement (HHSh) circles. As a beginning politician, Pashinyan was a member of the ANC alliance in parliament. Despite parting ways with your political force and forming the “Yelk Alliance,” Pashinyan always had a reputation as a “disciple” of Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Ter-Petrosyan was seen as Pahsinyan’s ideological mentor.
Since the government system changed to a parliamentary style, the Armenian citizen no longer elects many of its representatives, from mayors to prime ministers, and so on. And since 2019, the country has been a single party supermajority ruled country. While this supermajority remains in power, there is no way to get anything done that the ruling party doesn’t want, and the opposition can’t stop anything that the ruling party puts in motion.
Opposition groups say that there are over 3 dozen political prisoners in Armenia today. After the 2021 elections, many non-ruling party election winners were harassed, slapped with alleged corruption lawsuits, jailed, or forced into power-sharing compromises, and so on. Yet Pashinyan continues to use the term “democracy” as a symbol of his rule. In his recent 44-minute speech in Strasburg, he mentioned the term democracy 22 times.
Ter-Petrosyan’s argument for not getting involved in the calls for regime change (post-2020) seems to have been that our fate is settled. We should work with Nikol to force him to do the right thing.
With the depopulation of Artsakh and the forced dispossession of its people, the agreement of Nov. 2020 is all but obsolete. Aliyev has not honored any of his commitments in that agreement; for example, Armenian POWs remain in Baku; the Azeri forces have invaded far beyond the Nov 10 line of contact; Azerbaijan did not keep the Lachin corridor open, etc.; and now there is no Armenian population left to protect for the Russians, and the Russians did not protect the line of contact; we can say that because there were constant shootings and atrocities causing fatalities among Armenian civilians and defense forces since the Statement of November 2020.
Many unexplainable things have happened since the agreement was signed: the surrender of Lachin & Karvajar regions, the unilateral handing over of mine maps; the unilateral surrender of the Goris-Kapan highway, the complete non-reaction to the invasions of Armenia-proper in May 2021, September 2021, September 2022, and on and on.
We’re all aware of the loss of Artsakh last month, and the dispossession of its people from their homeland of millenia. Over 101,000 people were forcibly evicted in two week’s time at the end of September 2023. And over 45,000 people had already fled after the 44-day war in 2020.
Ever since Pashinyan came to power, there has been speculation that his policy has been to move Armenia from the Russian sphere of influence. At times, it became really confusing to understand where Armenia was going in its relationship with Russia.
After the war, and especially after the various Azerbaijani invasions into Armenia proper, Pashinyan’s public criticism of Russian policy became more strident. Most recently, in an interview with Armenian Public TV, he stated that Armenia is not trying to change its geopolitical vector. Yet the following day in Strasbourg, at the PACE assembly he criticized Russia for leaving Armenia alone against its enemies. Yesterday in an interview with the WSJ, he said that he doesn’t see an advantage for Russian bases to remain in Armenia.
Earlier this month Hamas instigated a fresh round of violence in Israel, which responded disproportionately and now there are thousands dead and injured. More importantly, this conflict is another proxy war in the installation of the incoming world order, which evolves from a post-soviet unipolar world, to a post post-soviet multipolar status.
This conflict has repercussions all the way back to the South Caucasus, because our various neighbors have different relationships with Israel and the Palestinians. Azerbaijan is an ally of Israel, Iran is an enemy of Israel and a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights, and Turkey is a two-faced player of all sides.
While Israel-Hamas is the latest flare-up, the greater and longer-term issues in the global geopolitical rearrangement is still playing out in Ukraine, which is the battleground for a Russia vs. NATO war.
All right, that’s our show, we hope you found it useful. Please find us on Social Media and follow us everywhere you get your Armenian news, the links are in the show notes. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. We’ll talk to you soon!
Levon Zourabian is the Vice-President of the Armenian National Congress (ANC) party of Armenia, which was the ruling party during the terms in office of first president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan in 1991-1998. He worked in the presidential administration as Aide and Chief Spokesman to the President. In 1998-2000 Mr. Zourabian studied at Columbia University and has a Master of International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs. From 2012-2017 Mr. Zourabian led the parliamentary faction of the ANC in the National Assembly of Armenia. Trained and having researched as theoretical physicist in Yerevan Physics Institute, he also makes appearances as Tech Advocate for the ANC.
Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.
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.