Illegal deployments, National Assembly invasion: Armenian crisis deepens

"File:Vladimir Putin and Nikol Pashinyan (2018-06-13) 01.jpg" by Пресс-служба Президента Российской Федерации is licensed under CC BY 4.0

By | Rachel Brooks

March 1, 2021 

Image above: “File:Vladimir Putin and Nikol Pashinyan (2018-06-13) 01.jpg” by Пресс-служба Президента Российской Федерации is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Pashinyan (pictured above next to Vladimir Putin) fell into political disgrace in Armenia after signing the terms of the ceasefire mitigation process proposed by the Russian leadership. 

Armenia stands as a nation on the brink. As Pashinyan braces for early polls amid the rabble cry to oust him, and protesters stormed the capital, the media circulates warnings against the illegal deployment of troops to the Karabakh territory. The territory is a legally recognized region of Azerbaijan that was reclaimed by the Azerbaijani republic in a joint national agreement in November 2020. 

A call for adherence to the peace agreement, days after a call for peace 

Turkish media was abuzz on February 28 with a “report from Azerbaijan” which warned Armenian forces not to violate the ceasefire terms in Karabakh, even as saber-rattling continued from the embattled nation. The media statement that was said to come from the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry was presented by AzerTac news. The statement cited cases of personnel being sent into the Karabakh territory post the recognized resolution of the conflict that took place with the agreement signing in November. The statement read as follows: 

“After the signing of a joint statement on November 10, 2020, which entailed the cessation of all hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia, there are cases of sending personnel of the Armenian armed forces for military service in the internationally recognized territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which contradicts the norms and principles of international law, the basic principles of international human rights,” wrote AzerTac News. 

The statement likewise called on the international community to take “necessary measures” to “put an end to such provocative actions by Armenia.” The warning statement came just days after an op-ed appeared on the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s English language website, which expressed the need to seize the opportunity for a lasting peace. 

Armenia on the brink 

Armenian political crisis continued to ramp up even as the Armenian-European Union agreement came into effect on March 1. The TASS agency states that Armenia’s Foreign Ministry hailed the ratification of the European agreement “propels the bilateral ties between Yerevan and Brussels to a new level.” 

Yet, even as these ties are secured, Armenia is a nation on the brink of political immolation. There is a pact between the national movement and the Diaspora to continue the press for Greater Armenia, a rhetoric that has taken to new lengths. 

This includes a piece published in HyperAllergic on February 28, which notes with a decided Armenian bias diversity in Karabakh the construction of a historic Islamic mausoleum by an Armenian Christian architect that denotes the previous co-inhabitance in the region of the two ethnic groups. The piece used biased language that referred to the territory as “Artsakh”, “Indigenous Armenia” and stated that Azerbaijan “violently procured most of its Soviet-era territories” likewise calling the Azerbaijani government rhetoric “haughty.” This language continues to circulate in the Armenian Diasporas commentary on the conflict, which, while it calls for diversity in the region, expressed non-factual statements or diluted facts regarding the conflict, and expresses a non-tolerance for the Azerbaijani claim to the region, which is internationally recognized. 

As the Armenian Diaspora continues to sink its teeth into the “Greater Armenia” rhetoric, the political unrest within the Armenian republic is at once provoked and stalled by Pashinyan. When the military demanded Pashinyan’s resignation over the Karabakh conflict outcome, he equated the move to an attempted coup. He sent a demand to the president calling for the removal of the military’s chief of General Staff. The president refused to sign the demand that would lead to the chief of General Staff’s dismissal, which led members of Pashinyan’s “My Step” party to demand the president’s impeachment. Pashinyan has demanded an extension of presidential powers to avoid future political crises, as the president cited the Armenian constitution as his reason for not dismissing General Staff chief Gasparian. 

Radio Free Europe reported on March 1 that Pashinyan is “ready for early elections” if his opposition “agrees to conditions.” This followed a rally outside the National Assembly building which stated that the “removal of the government is inevitable.” They stormed the National Assembly on March 1, warning Pashinyan that there was nowhere in the building he could hide. In response to the rabble, the Security Council of Armenia “strongly condemned” the attempts to involve the Armed Forces in the political process.