Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This show was recorded on Sunday, March 6, 2022.
I’m Asbed Bedrossian, this week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
● Ukraine War and Effects on Armenia
● Armenia Shuffles Generals
● Second Normalization Meeting
● Armenian parliament Elects New President
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Benyamin Poghosyan, who is the Chairman of the Yerevan based think tank Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies,
Well let’s not do a talkie version of the doom-scrolling through social media on the Ukraine crisis. You have written on this topic recently, so let’s zoom in on your thoughts on whether the war is going according to Russia’s plans or not. What do you think?
We’re of course interested in how Armenia would fare under the various outcome scenarios of this war. What will happen to Armenia and the region if Russia “wins” the war, and if Russia “loses” the war?
● What is the definition of a win or loss in this war?
● What is Putin’s endgame?
On February 24 Defense Minister Suren Papikyan dismissed the chief of the general staff Artak Davtyan, and several senior generals. The generals were replaced almost overnight, but Papikyan has only named an acting Chief of the Generals, Kamo Kochunts. Davtyan was the second or third chief since the humiliating defeat in 2020, and Papikian himself is the third or fourth defense minister in the same period. He’s only been DM since November 2021.
Papikian explained that the staff changes are part of the reform of the military forces that Pashinyan has been talking about since the war, and he emphasized the installation of a younger cadre of leaders for the armed forces.
● What’s going on, what’s the plan?
Morale in the armed forces has been very low since the war, obviously.
● What’s the emphasis on “younger cadres”?
● Outside of changing the general staff, what evidence do you see of reform in the armed forces?
Also on February 24, the second meeting of the special representatives of Armenia and Turkey on discussions to “Normalize” relations took place in Vienna.
There’s been very little information in the media about the content of this meeting. Both sides have released their pablumy statements that the meeting was held in a positive atmosphere and that more concrete details were discussed than the first meeting. In the Armenian parliament, FM Mirzoyan said that it’s hard to expect tangible results even from a second meeting.
● Can we read between the lines that disagreements have popped up, or the process has slowed down?
● Do we know anything about the actual agenda of these discussions?
FM Mirzoyan on one hand says that “the end result of the process is the normalization of relations, and, of course, for us, the opening of the Armenia-Turkey border”, but then he also says that “It’s a process that should provide solutions to issues accumulated for decades and centuries.”
So is this Normalization seeking to open the border and diplomatic relations, or is it addressing the Armenian Genocide as well? Referring to Ruben Safrastyan who is an expert in Turkish-Armenian dialog, it is evident that historically Turkey has used it to pressure Armenia to drop its pursuit of The Armenian Genocide, to stop purusing the cause for Artsakh, and to affirm the 1921 Kars Treaty. Is the current process also pursuing these goals?
On Thursday the National Assembly elected Vahagn Khachaturyan to be the next president of Armenia. Khachaturyan’s pitch in the parliament before the vote read like Pashinyan had written them for him. Basically he said that Pashinyan’s “peace agenda” was “the only way” forward for Armenia, and that he “could not imagine how it can be otherwise.”
The parliamentary opposition fully boycotted the vote, so the first round of voting failed to elect Khachaturyan because they needed a 75% approval, but in the second round they only needed 66% which they got through the ruling party’s 71 votes. So now Armenia has a president who works for the ruling party, and tows Pashinyan’s policy line, which is in fact what the prime minister had explicitly said he wanted a couple of weeks back.
● Have there been any celebrations in Armenia for having a new president?
● In the current format, does the president’s office matter at all?
● Even if the president was not a yes-man for the prime minister, what difference could he make?
● How will Khachaturyan matter for Armenia? What about for Pashinyan?
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.
Benyamin Poghosyan, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, War, Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijan, South Caucasus, Turkey, United States, China, Iran, Iranian Gas,