Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
● Russia-NATO escalation
● Border escalation
● Goodbye Moscow, Hello Brussels!
● Protests in Yerevan
Today we’re joined by:
Dr. Pietro Shakarian, who is a Lecturer in History at the American University of Armenia in Yerevan. His research focuses on the history of Eastern Armenia and the Caucasus, especially Soviet Armenia during the era of Nikita Khrushchev’s Thaw.
Let’s quickly talk about the heating rhetoric between Russia and NATO recently. Pietro on this show we’ve talked about how Turkey is supplying drones and other modern weaponry to countries encircling the Russian borders. Can you talk a little about where this is going?
● Ukraine and NATO build-up on Russia’s borders
● Putin says West taking Russia’s red lines “too lightly”
● Worth noting Turkey’s effect on the situation
As we record today, we’re reading again of an escalation near Vardenis, on the border in Gegharkunik, which has resulted in a fatality on the Armenian side. Today’s shotilities are an escalation to last week’s escalation!
This past week Azerbaijan launched the most intense hostilities against Armenia since the end of 44-day War in Artsakh, by attacking Armenian border posts in Syunik province. The current numbers stand at a half dozen soldiers dead on each side, and dozens of Armenian soldiers taken prisoner by Azerbaijan.
The hostilities come on the heels of a breakdown of the secret talks between Russian president Putin, PM Pashinyan, and President Aliyev to arrange a tripartite summit in Moscow, possibly on Nov 9 or 10, the 1-year anniversary of the capitulation agreement signed by the three countries to end the war.
It’s not clear what led to the breakdown of those talks, but on Saturday Azerbaijan and Armenia confirmed that they’ll be meeting in Brussels on the sidelines of the EU Eastern Partnership summit on December 15.
Pietro, let’s first discuss: Why did the Moscow-mediated talks break down?
Is Azerbaijan trying to seal its gains in Armenia’s territory as a fait-accompli? Because this week Russia-Iran released a joint statement crystal-clarifying the redline against any of Armenia’s border changes in the region. Could this have driven Azerbaijan into this latest irresponsible and terroristic incursion inside Armenia?
There are some analysts who believe that the talks broke down more because of a disagreement between Baku and Moscow, not Yerevan. This brought Azerbaijan back to the OSCE MG platform.
One of the most significant aspects of what’s going on here is that with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan ditching Moscow for Brussels, how is this affecting Russia’s status as a peacekeeper in the region? And also, as a mediator with the power and influence to impose peace as well?
Is Russia starting to distance itself from Azerbaijan?
Where do you think Turkey is in all this? It has made the regular statements of brotherhood and 100% support for Azerbaijan, but it has been rather quiet about the past week’s turbulence. Is there distance building between Azerbaijan and Turkey?
● Armenia not upbeat on trilateral meeting, choosing bilateral?
○ On November 7, Peskov (Putin’s spokesperson) had announced that a tripartite meeting is being prepared sometime this month.
○ On November 8, Pashinyan responded to this by saying that Armenia is not in favor of meeting just for the sake of meeting.
○ Then we had the mini war this week
○ Then Lavrov repeated that there is a planned meeting between 3 parties (RU, AM, AZ) in Moscow, but it requires consensus.
○ Then, surprise meeting announced in Brussels between Aliyev and Pashinyan
● Another thing that happened this week was that Iran announced that parties are close to approving the “Persian Gulf - Black Sea Transit Corridor”.
● Why did Europe suddenly activate? Is this an affront to Russia?
● Azerbaijan (and Armenia) have started work on the “corridor”?
○ Azerbaijan is aggressively building something
○ In an interview to Le FIgaro, Mirzoyan denied “corridors”
○ But is Armenia also building a wide highway near Angeghakot?
○ Also reported on 5tv: https://youtu.be/JVeYuNdRHuU?t=466
○ If the rumors are true, then this would mean that Azerbaijan is planning its corridor to run from Ganja -> Karvachar -> Kashatagh -> Hak -> Angeghakot -> Nakhijevan
OK, finally Hovik, you were at the anti-government rally in Yerevan today. Can you talk about it, and describe the mood and goals that are brewing on the street? Who organized the event, who showed up?
The goal of the rallies are intended to prevent another anti-Armenian declaration or agreement to be signed. The organizers are also demanding that Pashinyan disclose what exactly he’s going to sign.
The protests were organized by Zartonk (Ara Zohrabyan) and 5165 Movement (Karin Tonoyan). Prominent journalist Nairi Hokhikyan also spoke at the event. These activities were also supported at least by some parliamentary opposition members individually. Gegham Manukyan from the ARF shared the announcement and Arthur Khachatryan was visiting detainees.
Traffic was stopped for 44 minutes throughout the city. More than a dozen arrests and opposition alleges ill-treatment of detainees.
At 14:00, the opposition gathered in front of the government building at the Republic Square to hand their demands to the prime minister’s office, then marched to the president’s office on Baghramyan St. and then to the National Assembly to hand in similar demands.
The protesters returned to the Republic Square at 17:00 to have a larger gathering. They promised to continue these protests every day with the hope of improving turnout.
That was our Week in Review show, and we hope it helped you catch up with some of the issues in and around Armenia from this past week. As always, we invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our website Groong.org.
Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on Youtube, Like our pages and follow us on social media. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
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Pietro Shakarian, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, South Caucasus, Turkey, Russia, Corridors, Borders, Peace Negotiations, Rearming, Military reform, Press Freedoms, Politics, Military Procurement, United States, Iranian Gas, LNG, Pipelines, EU, European Union, Cultural Monuments, Cultural Preservation, Cultural Destruction,