With Karabakh Conflict In Limbo, Armenia Dissolves Parliament, Sets Snap Election For December

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 2 November 2018
With Karabakh Conflict In Limbo, Armenia Dissolves Parliament, Sets Snap Election For December

Armenia’s acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has coped with the minimum task on his way to consolidate his power and now he is going to the country to gain a popular mandate, that is, the majority in the next parliament.

Pashinyan is facing tough choices and is soon to run out of time and popular credit if fails though he is not so naïve and is aware of time he has at his disposal to give something to his nation in return for the velvet revolution that has placed at the top of the power and he has pledged a lot and will soon be asked hard questions by his rivals. And his rivals are still powerful with money and complete support of Russia, which has no trust in the Pashinyan’s team backed by certain circles in the West.

The next government in Armenia will make or break hopes of the population divided and impoverished by occupation of the neighboring nation’s lands and by channeling scarce public funds into the military spending. If Pashinyan wins the parliamentary majority, and this is outright that he will cope with this task, he will need to decide on how to tackle the long-drawn-out conflict.

On the one hand, he is well-aware of an impasse each his predecessors faced and quitted power after a term or two, abandoning the bitter conflict for generations to come. The status quo does not benefit both Armenia and Azerbaijan but is in line with regional policies of superpowers as they keep it as a tool to preserve their clout on the South Caucasus.

No government in Armenia knows how to end the conflict as they do not agree to freely quit the Azerbaijani lands they have occupied militarily. Any move to near a solution or consent to resolve the conflict gives birth to domestic violence or departure of governments. The May 2018 developments in Armenia brought about the same scenario and now Pashinyan is not guaranteed from repeating the same scenario in five years or less.

Thus, the question people have been asking for over 20 years is – will the problem be resolved? But questions, asked in Armenia and Azerbaijan, are different. In Azerbaijan, the question is when the occupation of 20-percent of territories will end, but in Armenia, the question is when Azerbaijan will recognize the breakaway Karabakh as an independent entity and thus to open the way for unification of Karabakh with Armenia. For Azerbaijan, such a scenario is unthinkable and ruled out at a time when the Azerbaijani army ranks among the 50 powerful armies in the world and a lot of things have changed both domestically and internationally.

The Pashinyan government is at loggerheads with Armenia’s major protector and the Kremlin fears Armenia’s departure from Moscow’s sphere of influence would end Russia’s ambitions and plans to continue influencing the South Caucasus through Armenia and by beefing up its military bases in this country.

Removing obstacles on his way towards succeeding in the minimum task, Pashinyan skillfully created loopholes and used masterly protest voices and popular indignation at the remnants of the previous government to speed up the process. The parliamentary majority finally bowed to Pashinyan’s pressure and the rubber-stamp parliament after the second attempt agreed to the application of a constitutional norm.

On November 1, Armenian President Armen Sargsyan called a parliamentary election for December 9. The early parliamentary election is to be held in Armenia after the parliament failed to elect a new prime minister for a second time in two weeks and the parliament is dissolved by virtue of law.

The acting prime minister was not elected in accordance with a political agreement. Pashinyan, as well as during the first voting on October 24, was the only candidate for the post of prime minister. The nomination was formal. “All is done in order to ensure the full implementation of the procedure established by the constitution. If the prime minister is not elected at this meeting, the National Assembly will be dissolved by force of law,” said the head of the Yelk parliamentary faction Lena Nazaryan.
Pashinyan resigned from the post of Prime Minister of Armenia on October 16. The resignation was needed in order to early dissolve the National Assembly and to hold early parliamentary elections in December this year, as required by the prime minister.

In the meantime, a day before Armenia called a snap parliamentary election, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs composed of Igor Popov, Andrew Schaefer and Stefan Visconti and personal representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk visited Armenia and the breakaway Karabakh prior to arriving in Azerbaijan on November 1 for talks on how to speed up resolution of the Karabakh conflict.

In Yerevan, they met with acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and, of course, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
To be honest, the alignment of political forces in the new parliament of Armenia does not really bother Baku. It just would like this electoral leapfrog to end as soon as possible and, finally, the government of the aggressor state was formed. Since all of this confusion about the rejection of Pashinyan’s candidacy, the new elections to the legislative assembly and the expected appointment of Pashinyan as prime minister delay the process of negotiations on Karabakh. That is, being in the current situation - interim foreign minister and interim prime minister, the leadership of Armenia is not responsible for their statements and actions.

Both the OSCE Minsk Group and, naturally, Azerbaijan are waiting for a response from Yerevan to the question: who will negotiate on Karabakh from Armenia. However, even Pashinyan’s responsibility as a prime minister should not be hoped for. That short period of time during which he was prime minister showed that, irresponsibility, unpredictability, and amateurism showed through in every line of his speech.

For example, despite the fact that both the mediators and the official Baku, and some representatives of the regime in Armenia stated that the format of the negotiations would not change, nevertheless Pashinyan repeats how the Karabakh separatists should participate in the negotiations as a tired trope, thereby aggravating tensions and delaying the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

And in general, is it possible to conduct constructive negotiations with a man from the street who has not realized full responsibility for the process of settling and reducing escalation? Truth to be told, we have still those who all hope for Pashinyan's constructivism in resolving the Karabakh problem. It is not clear where did this optimism come from?

The future prime minister of Armenia is walking along the beaten track of Sargsyan, everywhere establishing his sole power. And most importantly, his position on Karabakh is no different from the position of Serzh Sargsyan.

All the same illegal visits to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, contributing to the escalation of the conflict, all the same inappropriate, stupid and provocative statements, all the same attempts at non-recognition of Armenia as a party to the conflict and the complete refusal from of its obligations to the international community and ignorance of the UN Security Council resolutions on unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian occupation forces from the territories of Azerbaijan.

We should not seriously count on the fact that Nikol Pashinyan will begin to realize and be ready to conduct a dialogue within the framework of the commitments made at the negotiations on the Karabakh settlement.

Therefore, Azerbaijani diplomacy should make even more efforts to exert pressure on Armenia from the Minsk Group and the international community as a whole. But we must not forget about the military solution to the conflict. After all, one needs to speak with the aggressors in his own language...