Armenian News Network / Groong


Conversations on Groong: with Vahram Ter-Matevosyan



September 12, 2022


     Vahram Ter-Matevosyan


     Hovik Manucharyan

     Asbed Bedrossian



Hello and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong,

This episode was recorded on Sunday, September 11, 2022.


From ‘revolution’ to war: deciphering Armenia’s populist foreign policy-making process


In this Conversations on Groong episode, we’re going to discuss Prof. Vahram Ter-Matevosyan and Hovannes Nikoghosyan’s recent research paper titled From ‘revolution’ to war: deciphering Armenia’s populist foreign policy-making process.


For this, we are joined by one of the co-authors:


Prof. Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, who is an associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science and International Affairs Program at AUA. His research interests focus on Turkish politics, Kemalism, Political Islam & Security in the South Caucasus.





Recently, you and your colleague Hovhannes Nikoghosyan published a paper in Taylor and Francis Online (TANDF) that analyzes the foreign policy decision making (FPDM) of the Nikol Pashinyan administration.

Q: Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for this research topic and why it is important to interested readers?

Q: The level of detail in this paper reminds us that Armenia never set up an independent commission to analyze the 44-day war and its outcome. Could your research be rolled into such an analytical review of a commission’s work?

Q: You summarize Pashinyan’s administration to date into three distinct phases:

  1. Euphoria
  2. Down to earth
  3. Recipe for disaster

Can you summarize these categories, and the turning points?

(Note: the “invincibility of democratic credentials”, etc)



In the paper, you try to show two contrasting phenomena, that of populism (which is on a rise around the world) and that of mature and pragmatic policymaking in Armenia. In the abstract of the paper, for instance, you write that the “incoherent and erratic nature of” policy caused “unprecedented wreckage” of Armenia’s national security architecture.”

Defenders of Pashinyan claim that the trajectory towards war and the outcome we have now was set in motion many years ago by Pashinyan’s predecessors.

Q: Do you agree that the coming of the war and its outcome was predetermined by Pashinyan’s predecessors? If so, how? What agency did Pashinyan and his team have to prevent or at least minimize its disastrous outcome?



One specific aspect of the war, which I believe served a decisive role, was Turkey’s involvement in the war. In fact, in my opinion, Turkey really didn’t even need to be physically involved (but of course it was). Just by sharing with Azerbaijan accurate NATO signals and satellite intelligence in the form of targets to destroy, is decisive in my opinion.

Paying attention and estimating Turkey’s willingness to intervene on behalf of Azerbaijan would be critical for Armenia’s leadership. We of course have seen different members of the Pashinyan team assure the press and public, even weeks before the war, that Turkey would not dare intervene.

Q: Have you looked at this aspect of Armenia’s foreign policy? What did Pashinyan’s team do (or perhaps didn’t do) in this area to accurately assess the risk of intervention from Turkey and to put mitigations to counter this risk?


      Was there any specific contact with Turkey in the run-up to Sep 2020?

      How critical were Pashinyan’s and Armen Sarkissian’s statements on the 100th anniversary of Treaty of Sevres?



Many, especially those in the pro-Pashinyan camp today, blame Russia for throwing Armenia under the bus for better relations with Turkey.


      What was the conduct of Pashinyan’s foreign policy with Russia like, preceding and during the war?

      Are the claims that Russia deceived Armenia correct? Did Russia in recent years ever send a signal to Armenia that it would help defend Artsakh?



Turning to relations with Azerbaijan, many of the analysts we have talked to state that it was pretty much obvious that Aliyev was gearing up for war starting from 2011 when he effectively rejected the peace deal being considered at the time.

It is apparent that Azerbaijan also bid its time, preparing militarily but also tactically selecting a suitable period in time. In 2020, the world was preoccupied with Covid and in the US it was election season, as well as a period of near isolationism from foreign involvements in the Trump administration.

Q: Despite the external factors, was there anything that Armenia did bilaterally with Azerbaijan that could have delayed the war or helped change its outcome? For instance, in the paper you talk about the infamous Dushanbe elevator meeting, where Pashinyan and Aliyev are alleged to have agreed to not fire at each other on the border and allow Pashinyan to consolidate power internally.



That was our show and we hope you found it helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our website Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube, Follow us on Twitter, and Like our Facebook page.


Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we thank you for listening. Stay well, we’ll be back next week.


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Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, Hovannes Nikoghosyan, Armenia, Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Populism, Populist Leader, Azerbaijan, 44-day war, Foreign Policy Decision Making, FPDM, Security Council, National Assembly, Parliament, Prime Minister Office, Francophonie, Democratic Credentials, Nikol Pashinyan,