RFE/RL Armenian Report – 11/17/2020

                                        Tuesday, 

Another Armenian Minister Resigns


Armenia -- Minister of Emergency Situations FelixTsolakian speaks at a polling 
station in Gyumri, December 9, 2018

Minister for Emergency Situations Felix Tsolakian stepped down on Tuesday amid 
continuing opposition calls for the Armenian government’s resignation.

Neither Tsolakian nor his spokesperson Anna Baghdasarian gave a reason for the 
move.

Tsolakian hinted at his resignation earlier in the day when he met with a large 
group of Ministry for Emergency Situations employees who returned to Armenia 
from Nagorno-Karabakh where they took part in the six-week war with Azerbaijan.

Tsolakian, 68, is the second minister to leave Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s 
government since a Russian-mediated agreement stopped the war on November 10.

Pashinian announced on Monday that he has decided to sack Foreign Minister 
Zohrab Mnatsakanian. The latter insisted, however, that he himself tendered his 
resignation. But he too gave no reason.

Earlier on Monday, an Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman publicly 
contradicted Pashinian’s comments regarding Shushi (Shusha), Karabakh’s second 
largest city captured by Azerbaijani forces during the war.

The terms of the Karabakh truce brokered by Moscow sparked street protests in 
Yerevan, with Armenian opposition groups accusing Pashinian’s government of 
capitulating to Azerbaijan and demanding his resignation. Pashinian and his 
political allies reject the opposition demands.



Putin Hopes For Final Karabakh Settlement

        • Aza Babayan

RUSSIA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting dedicated to a 
humanitarian mission in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh via a video conference 
call at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, November 13, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that a Russian-brokered 
agreement that stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh may have laid the groundwork 
for an eventual resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Putin mentioned the November 9 deal as he spoke at a virtual summit of the 
leaders of Brazil, China, Russia, India and South Africa making up the BRICS 
grouping.

“It is important that the mentioned agreements are being observed,” he said. 
“Hostilities have been fully stopped and the situation is stabilizing. 
Conditions have thus been created for a long-term and full resolution of the 
crisis on a just basis and in the interests of both the Azerbaijani and Armenian 
peoples.”

Putin, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham 
Aliyev struck the deal six weeks after the start of the war that killed 
thousands of soldiers from both sides.

Azerbaijan agreed to halt offensive military operations in return for an 
Armenian pledge to withdraw by the end of this month from three districts around 
Karabakh. Baku regained control over four other districts, which had been 
occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces in the early 1990s, during the latest war.

The truce accord also calls for the deployment in the conflict zone of around 
2,000 Russian peacekeepers and the return of refugees and internally displaced 
persons. It says nothing about Karabakh’s future status, the main bone of 
contention.

Yerevan has indicated that it will continue to seek international recognition of 
Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan. By contrast, Aliyev stated on Tuesday that 
Baku will not even agree to grant the Armenian-populated territory an autonomous 
status.

Russia has for decades tried to broker a Karabakh settlement together with the 
United States and France. The three world powers co-chair the Minsk Group of the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le 
Drian discussed the Karabakh conflict when they met in Paris on Monday. 
According to a U.S. State Department official, they acknowledged Russia’s role 
in the end of the hostilities while concurring that Moscow should further 
clarify terms of the ceasefire deal and Turkey’s role in its implementation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Moscow is ready to provide 
such clarifications.



Ruling Bloc Silent On Snap Elections

        • Tatevik Lazarian

Armenia -- Pro-government and opposition deputies argue on the parliament floor, 
.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step alliance did not respond on Tuesday to 
President Armen Sarkissian’s calls for fresh parliamentary elections in Armenia.

In a televised address to the nation broadcast late on Monday, Sarkissian said 
the elections would “save the country from upheavals” in the wake of the 
six-week war that resulted in Armenian territorial losses in and around 
Karabakh, He said they should be held by a new, interim “government of national 
accord.”

Pashinian and his bloc controlling the Armenian parliament did not react to the 
statement as of Tuesday evening. A senior member of My Step, deputy parliament 
speaker Lena Nazarian, said in the afternoon that the ruling political team has 
not yet discussed the issue.

“The official view of [My Step’s parliamentary] faction is expressed by the 
faction leader [Lilit Makunts.] Please talk to her,” Nazarian told reporters.

“I have nothing to add at this point,” said Makunts. “When we have something 
clear to say on this score we will definitely make a statement.”

Sarkissian made the case for the current government’s resignation and snap 
elections amid continuing opposition protests in Yerevan against Pashinian’s 
handling of the war with Azerbaijan and terms of a Russian-brokered agreement 
that stopped it on November 10. Opposition parties staging the protests demand 
the prime minister’s resignation.

“A leader who led his country to defeat must not stay in power,” Naira 
Zohrabian, a senior lawmaker representing one of those parties, Prosperous 
Armenia (BHK), insisted on Tuesday.

Speaking on the parliament floor, Zohrabian charged that Pashinian is trying to 
cling to power “at any cost.”

Deputies from the opposition Bright Armenia Party also demanded Pashinian’s 
resignation. “Under the current government and prime minister our situation 
would worsen by the day,” one of them, Gevorg Gorgisian, said.

Makunts dismissed the opposition demands. “By stirring up such emotions now that 
our officials are holding negotiations and very important processes are 
unfolding with respect to Karabakh one does demonstrate a patriotic and 
statesmanlike position,” she said.

Echoing statements by Pashinian, Makunts said the government is ready for a 
“constructive” dialogue with the opposition. But she did not elaborate.



Karabakh Unveils Post-War Aid Package For Residents


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- Men walk past a burnt shop in Stepanakert, 

Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh will not have to pay for electricity, natural gas 
and other utilities for the next year as part of an emergency aid package 
approved by Karabakh’s leadership on Tuesday.

Ara Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, said the exemptions are necessary for 
alleviating the socioeconomic plight of the territory’s population in the wake 
of the devastating war with Azerbaijan.

Harutiunian also promised to compensate low-income local residents and those 
Karabakh Armenians whose homes were destroyed during the six-week war. The 
homeless people will receive 300,000 drams ($607) each, he said at a meeting 
with senior officials in Stepanakert.

“The Karabakh government is committing itself to solving the housing problems of 
all our homeless citizens within several years. In the meantime, the state will 
continue providing these families with financial aid that will cover their 
housing rent,” added Harutiunian.

The Karabakh leader did not specify the total cost of the aid package or say 
whether it will be financed by Armenia’s government and the Yerevan-based 
All-Armenian Fund Hayastan.

The pan-Armenian charity has raised about $200 million for economic and 
humanitarian aid to Karabakh since the outbreak of the war on September 27. The 
money has been donated by people in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.

The Armenian government announced separately that it will pay one-off 
compensations to all Karabakh residents displaced by the large-scale 
hostilities. It said each of them will receive 68,000 drams.

According to authorities in Stepanakert, at least 90,000 civilians making up 
around 60 percent of Karabakh’s population fled their homes during the war. Most 
of them took refuge in Armenia. More than a thousand refugees have reportedly 
returned to Karabakh since a Russian-mediated agreement stopped the war on 
November 10.



Armenian President Calls For Snap Elections


Armenia -- President Armen Sarkissian addresses the nation, .

President Armen Sarkissian called late on Monday for the holding of fresh 
parliamentary elections in Armenia, saying that they are needed to resolve a 
political crisis sparked by the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The elections would “save the country from upheavals” in the wake of the 
six-week war that resulted in Armenian territorial losses in and around 
Karabakh, Sarkisian said in a televised address to the nation.

He urged Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government and My Step alliance to 
come up with a “roadmap” for the snap polls. They should be held by a new, 
interim “government of national accord,” added the head of state.

Sarkissian, who has largely ceremonial powers, said that his proposals reflect 
the dominant view of political party leaders and public figures with whom he has 
held consultations in recent days.

Some of those parties have been holding demonstrations in Yerevan to condemn 
Pashinian’s handling of the war and demand his resignation. The prime minister 
has rejected their demands. He has yet to publicly clarify whether he could 
agree to snap general elections demanded by his political opponents.

Pashinian and his political team did not immediately react to Sarkissian’s 
speech.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2020 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS