RFE/RL Armenian Report – 06/07/2021

                                        Monday, June 7, 2021

Armenian Foreign Ministry Confirms More Resignations

Armenia - The Armenian Foreign Ministry building in Yerevan.

All four deputy foreign ministers of Armenia tendered their resignations after 
Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian stepped down on May 27, it was officially 
confirmed on Monday.

Ayvazian announced his decision hours after an emergency session of the Armenian 
government’s Security Council which discussed mounting tensions on the 
Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Speaking at a May 31 farewell meeting with the Foreign Ministry staff, Ayvazian 
hinted that he is quitting because of disagreeing with government decisions 
which he believes could put the country’s sovereignty and national security at 
risk. He did not go into details.

It emerged afterwards that one of Ayvazian’s deputies, Gagik Ghalachian, also 
handed in his resignation on May 27. Some Armenian media outlets reported last 
week that the three other deputy ministers -- Artak Apitonian, Avet Adonts and 
Armen Ghevondian -- followed suit.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry confirmed those reports on Monday. It told 
RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the resignations of Apitonian, Adonts and 
Ghevondian were submitted to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s office for 
approval last week.

None of the vice-ministers has been formally relieved of his duties so far.

Speaking at the May 27 meeting of the Security Council, Pashinian called for the 
deployment of international observers along contested portions of the frontier 
where Armenian and Azerbaijani troops have been facing off against each other 
for the last four weeks.

Some opposition figures and other critics of Pashinian denounced the proposal, 
accusing him of failing to defend Armenia against foreign aggression and 
plotting to cede Armenian territory to Baku. The prime minister and his allies 
deny that.

Ayvazian’s remarks gave Pashinian’s detractors more ammunition. An Armenian 
government spokeswoman challenged the outgoing minister to publicly clarify 
“who, where and how was going to take some steps or to make decisions 
contradicting our country’s national and state interests.”

Ter-Petrosian Warns Of Election Trouble

        • Sargis Harutyunyan

Armenia -- First President Levon Ter-Petrossian launches the election campaign 
of his Armenian National Congress party, Yerevan, June 7, 2021

Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian continued to attack his successor Robert 
Kocharian and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Monday, saying that their bitter 
rivalry will make the upcoming parliamentary elections the “most dangerous” in 
Armenia’s history.

Ter-Petrosian claimed that they are ready to do everything to win the snap 
elections scheduled for June 20.

“It’s a battle between their resources and supporters for now,” he said. “They 
will not content themselves with that. There will be thousands of irregularities 
by both sides during the elections. In case of thousands of irregularities there 
will definitely be incidents inside polling stations that could get out of 

Speaking during the official presentation of the election manifesto of his 
Armenian National Congress (HAK) party, Ter-Petrosian also said Pashinian and 
Kocharian are motivated by personal revenge and never fulfill their promises. 
“They have said one thing but done a totally different thing,” he said.

Last month Ter-Petrosian publicly called on Kocharian and the other former 
Armenian president, Serzh Sarkisian, to lead together with him a broad-based 
opposition alliance and try to unseat Pashinian. He said they also must also 
pledge not to seek the post of prime minister in the event of their bloc’s 
victory. Both men turned down the proposal.

Ter-Petrosian, who had served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, 
insisted that an electoral alliance of the three ex-presidents would have left 
Pashinian without any chance of reelection.

Pashinian last week invited Ter-Petrosian, Kocharian and Sarkisian to a live 
televised debate. All three men dismissed the offer.

“I turned down Pashinian out of pity,” Ter-Petrosian explained on Monday. “I 
took pity on him because that debate could have meant a [political] suicide for 

Pashinian played a major role in Ter-Petrosian’s 2008 opposition movement. He 
subsequently fell out with the 76-year-old ex-president and set up his own party.

Gunfire Reported On Armenian-Azeri Border

        • Susan Badalian

Armenia - A view from Kut village in Gegharkuniq province, June 6, 2021.

Tensions remain high along contested sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani 
border, with the Armenian military claiming on Monday to have forced Azerbaijani 
troops to stop fortifying some of their new positions controversially taken 
almost a month ago.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry said its troops took “counteractions” on the Armenian 
side of the frontier near the village of Verin Shorzha in eastern Gegharkunik 

It released a short video that purportedly showed Azerbaijani excavators digging 
trenches and then leaving the scene after what appeared to be gunshots fired 
from nearby Armenian positions.

“They [the excavators] worked here both yesterday and today. But nothing is 
being done right now,” Verin Shorzha’s mayor told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Azerbaijani troops reportedly crossed several sections of the border and 
advanced a few kilometers into Gegharkunik and another Armenian province, 
Syunik, on May 12-14, triggering a tense standoff with Armenian army units 
reinforced in recent weeks. Yerevan has repeatedly demanded their unconditional 
withdrawal. Baku maintains that they did not cross into Armenian territory.

In a weekend statement, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said Azerbaijani forces 
halted last Thursday similar fortification work at a Gegharkunik section of the 
border after Armenian “warning shots.”

The ministry also said that Armenian and Azerbaijani troops deployed near 
another Gegharkunik village, Kut, exchanged gunfire on Saturday. It accused 
Azerbaijani soldiers of firing at an Armenian shepherd who tried to herd 
livestock that approached their post back to Kut.

“The gunfire stopped after retaliatory actions taken by the Armenian side,” the 
ministry said, adding that no one was wounded in the incident.

Local residents told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Monday that about 80 cows 
belonging to five Kut families ended up in Azerbaijani-controlled territory. 
They said Armenian military officials are negotiating with their Azerbaijani 
colleagues in a bid to return the cows to their owners.

The Azerbaijani military did not report shooting incidents in the area in recent 

Armenian Election Campaign Officially Starts

        • Naira Nalbandian
        • Marine Khachatrian
        • Satenik Hayrapetian

Armenia - Edmon Marukian, the leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party, 
starts its election campaign in Yerevan, June 7, 2021.

Campaigning officially began in Armenia on Monday for the June 20 snap 
parliamentary elections aimed at ending a serious political crisis resulting 
from last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Twenty-six political parties and blocs are vying for at least 101 seats in the 
next Armenian parliament that will decide the political future of Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian.

The parties will need to win at least 5 percent of the vote in order to be 
represented in the National Assembly. The legal vote threshold for blocs is set 
at 7 percent.

The main challengers of Pashinian’s Civil Contract party are the two opposition 
parties represented in the outgoing parliament as well as blocs led by the 
country’s three former presidents: Levon Ter-Petrosian, Robert Kocharian and 
Serzh Sarkisian. They blame Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the six-week war 
with Azerbaijan stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement last November.

Most major election contenders began holding meetings with supporters weeks 
before the official start of the campaign. Pashinian has traded increasingly 
bitter accusations and insults with Kocharian and Sarkisian. In particular, the 
latter have accused the incumbent of misrule and inability to confront grave 
security challenges facing Armenia even after the war.

As he campaigned in Armavir province west of Yerevan on Monday Pashinian again 
lambasted the two ex-presidents and said that they will be brought to justice 
for what he called past corrupt practices if he retains power. He also 
reiterated his calls for voters to hand him a landslide victory in the upcoming 

“We expect at least 60 percent of the vote … We must uproot the political forces 
that want to provoke a civil war in Armenia,” he said at a rally held in the 
village of Parakar.

Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks at an election campaign rally in 
Echmiadzin, June 7, 2021.

According to an opinion poll commissioned by the Washington-based International 
Republican Institute (IRI) and conducted from April 8 through May 4, only 26 
percent of Armenians were ready to vote for Pashinian’s party.

Kocharian and his opposition allies making up the Hayastan (Armenia) bloc 
campaigned, meanwhile, in southeastern Syunik province. The ex-president was 
scheduled to hold a rally in the provincial capital Kapan on Monday evening.

Unlike Kocharian, Sarkisian is not seeking to become prime minister or even a 
parliament deputy. His Republican Party (HHK) has formed an alliance with the 
opposition Fatherland party of Artur Vanetsian, a former head of Armenia’s 
National Security Service.

Vanetsian tops the list of the alliance’s election candidates. He kicked off its 
election campaign in northern Tavush province.

Edmon Marukian, the leader of the parliamentary Bright Armenia Party (LHK), 
expressed serious concern over mounting tensions between the ruling party and 
the radical opposition forces led by the two ex-presidents. He claimed that they 
could plunge the country into a “civil war.”

Marukian said Armenians can prevent it by voting for his party in large numbers. 
“Or else, if one of those sides succeeds it will seek to destroy the other,” he 
told reporters while marching through Yerevan together with his associates.

Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the other opposition party represented in the 
outgoing parliament, was due to hold its first campaign rally in Abovian, a town 
15 kilometers north of Yerevan has long been BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian’s 
political stronghold.

Other senior BHK members presented the party’s campaign platform at a news 
conference in Yerevan. The BHK promises, among other things, to further deepen 
Armenia’s security ties with Russia through a new “military-political treaty.”

The document also reaffirms Tsarukian’s controversial pledge to write off every 
Armenian’s debts commercial banks not exceeding 3 million drams ($5,800).

Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2021 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


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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