Pashinyan Tends To Believe Building Ties With Baku & Ankara Only Way For Yerevan

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 23 December 2020
Pashinyan Tends To Believe Building Ties With Baku & Ankara Only Way For Yerevan

Armenia is in the grip of street protests though the opposition seems unable to take enough people out to the streets to compel once popular Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to step down. For his part, the latter is blaming the previous governments of Kocharyan and Sargsyan for the defeat of the Armenian army in Azerbaijan’s occupied Karabakh region in the 44-day war.

With the November 10, 2020 tripartite statement, Russia moved to rescue Armenia from the destruction of the Azerbaijani army in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia had no other option than agreeing to the Russian-mediated nine-point rescue plan amid swiftly advancing pace of the Azerbaijani military forces towards Stepanakert/Xankandi.

The political turmoil in Armenia has not stopped since November 10 though inefficient so far. Pundits suggest that the attitude of the Armenian society to the capitulation document, signed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, is ambiguous. That is, despite claims of the radical opposition, not everyone thinks that Nikol Pashinyan should bear all the responsibility for the military defeat.

A total of 17 Armenian opposition parties have been calling for Pashinyan's resignation for over a month. The lack of large-scale protest rallies is a clear proof since Armenians understand that the country's problem has nothing in common with a possible change of the government.

That is, the departure of the current government and the prime minister cannot and should not be a priority. The priority is to present a new development strategy, an efficient road map for Armenia and for its unfortunate and poor people.

It is obvious that the opposition forces do not have such a strategy or a road map. Wherever it is possible to come out with extreme hatred against Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia and its people are there today. That is, they are in deep economic and political collapse and in crisis.

That is why, the ultra-nationalist and Turkophobic opposition, which calls for a fight against Baku and Ankara, cannot be so interesting for ordinary people. Again, no matter how paradoxical, the way out may come from Pashinyan, who occasionally expresses the importance of establishing relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey, though being in desperate straits since everything what could be tested was tested that did not work.

"In the next 30-40 years, Armenia will not be able to put up any military resistance against Azerbaijan. During the 44-day war, Yerevan suffered heavy casualties and 80-90% of the Armenian army's equipment was destroyed. Azerbaijan has a population of 10m, Turkey has a population of 83m, and Armenia has a population of less than 3m. Therefore, the probability of Armenia resuming the war is very low, the head of the Atlas Center for Political Studies think tank, Elkhan Shahinoglu, thinks.

The pundit opines that even if Nikol Pashinyan is removed from power, his successor will not have the courage to seek military revenge as "Armenia does not have enough resources for this".

Speaking about the possible scenario of further development of events, Shahinoglu considers it possible to hold snap parliamentary elections in Armenia under the current conditions.

Pashinyan intends to prolong the time for the Armenian society to absorb all the pain of military defeat. However, it can be said that the Armenian community has got rid of the Karabakh burden. Therefore, a part of the Armenian society still supports the prime minister. It is very difficult to achieve the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan through Maidans or street protests.

First, the Armenian opposition is unable to gather even 7,000 people. Second, they could not get Pashinyan's resignation in the parliament, because Pashinyan's Elk (My Step) faction has the parliamentary majority. He can be removed from power only through a military coup, the pundit said, adding that in this situation, Nikol Pashinyan will be forced to hold snap parliamentary elections.

Suren Sahakyan of Citizen's Decision party also opines that though Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s future fate is obvious, he will not resign, at least, as long as 17 parties are on the streets.

"He will not leave as long as it is demanded by people who must bear equal responsibility with him for the current situation. Accordingly, it seems necessary to stabilize the internal political situation in the country as soon as possible. Thus, we will only bring the day closer with a snap parliamentary election," he stressed.

Pundit Mahammad Asadullazada also draws attention to the inefficiency of the opposition rallies against Nikol Pashinyan.

“Yesterday’s march of Pashinyan’s supporters was a message to the opposition and Russia. This came after Robert Kocharyan’s visit to Moscow, where he was likely to discuss an anti-Pashinyan project there. Therefore, by taking over the processes, Nikol Pashinyan prevents Russia's plan to overthrow his government and neutralizes the opposition,” the pundit thinks.

He is of opinion that the prime minister is increasingly taking control of the situation in the country. He believes that if Nikol Pashinyan manages to stay in power, he will try to restore relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey.

"His plan is to involve Armenia in regional projects," the pundit opined.

Actually, in his view, there is no other way out for Armenia. Though governments have changed, this reality remains unchanged and is becoming more and more prominent. In other words, the country's salvation depends not on Russia, which has no borders, but on its main neighbors - Azerbaijan and Turkey.

If Russia and its strategic military alliance were of great benefit for the Armenian people, it would have been there throughout these 29 years. Now the major issue should be why not to change the wrong course. That would be Pashinyan’s greatest benefit for his people. As they say, "a close neighbor is better than a distant relative," he added.

"The Armenian society is very disappointed and shocked. They see no alternative to Nikol Pashinyan. Those who now oppose Pashinyan and want to achieve his resignation are, in fact, people around Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan. However, they themselves have brought Armenia to the current situation in the last 20 years. In this sense, the Armenian society is disappointed with Pashinyan, but the opposition, which is fighting for power with him, does not instill any hope in society,” pundit and MP Rasim Musabayov told Telegraf.com.

Parliamentarian Rasim Musabayov believes that Armenians are both shocked and are uncertain about the future.

“It is true that Nikol Pashinyan took power from the Sargsyan-Kocharyan duo by taking hundreds of thousands of people to the streets. But the couple is now unable to take 10-15,000 people to the streets against Pashinyan. At the same time, neither Nikol Pashinyan, nor the opposition forces that seek to seize power, has the support of society. In fact, most Armenians have been disappointed."

In Sahakyan's opinion, those in the government and those on the streets today, by and large, compete in who is worse. Society, in response, prefers to slowly go crazy at home with a sense of uncertainty, threat and despair, but not join either one or the other.

Against this background, the politician came to the conclusion that it does not matter at all who will make an alternative to the "former" and "current" governments. The reason is the impossibility of any option for the country's exit from the existing situation without losses and threats.

"We must understand that the return of our prisoners by Azerbaijan began only when the rallies in Armenia ended around this problem. The same is happening around the search for the missing and the search for the bodies of the dead. As long as Baku can destabilize the situation in Armenia by delaying of these processes, it will drag them out. This is a swamp in which the more you move, the more you get stuck," Sahakyan stressed.

The head of the Enlightened Armenia faction, MP Edmon Marukyan is also sure that no-one will succeed in an attempt to change the government through street protests.

Nevertheless, the parliamentarian stressed that he supports the opposition parties, which demand the resignation of the Armenian prime minister.

“From the very first days, we stressed that we support the demand of the opposition forces about the need to change the country's leadership. We are sure that if Pashinyan had resigned at least in early December, a number of difficult situations and decisions unfavorable for Armenia could have been avoided,” he opined