RFE/RL Armenian Service – 12/25/2023


Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Deal No Panacea, Insists Baku

Azerbaijan - Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov attends a joint news 
conference with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna in Baku, April 27, 

An Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty would not end all disputes between the two 
South Caucasus states, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said over 
the weekend.

“It cannot be said that the peace treaty will ensure a 100 percent solution to 
all issues but it can lay the groundwork for the development of relations 
between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Bayramov told Azerbaijani state television.

He did not say which issues will remain unresolved if Baku and Yerevan succeed 
in negotiating such a treaty.

One of the remaining sticking points in their discussions is how to delimit and 
demarcate the long Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Yerevan has insisted until now 
on including in the peace accord a clear delimitation mechanism that would 
commit Baku to recognizing Armenia’s international borders.

The Azerbaijani side has been reluctant to do that. It is also against using 
late Soviet-era maps for the delimitation process, an idea advanced by Armenia 
and backed by the European Union.

Hikmet Hajiyev, a top foreign policy adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham 
Aliyev, said last week that Baku believes "the border delimitation issue should 
be kept separate from peace treaty discussions." Alen Simonian, the Armenian 
parliament speaker and a leading member of the ruling Civil Contract party, said 
that Yerevan does not object to this in principle.

Armenian opposition leaders expressed serious concern over such an arrangement, 
saying that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government is ready to make more 
concessions to Azerbaijan without securing anything in return.

Pashinian and other Armenian officials themselves suggested this summer that 
Aliyev wants to leave the door open for future territorial claims to Armenia. 
Some Armenian analysts believe this is the reason why Aliyev keeps delaying 
further negotiations mediated by the United States and the European Union.

The Azerbaijani leader said earlier this month that the peace treaty would not 
be enough to preclude another Armenian-Azerbaijani war. He demanded concrete 
safeguards against Armenian “revanchism.”

Pashinian Allies Lash Out At Karabakh Leader

        • Ruzanna Stepanian

Armenia - Samvel Shahramanian addresses protesters outside the Karabakh mission 
in Yerevan, October 20, 2023.

Armenia’s ruling party lashed out at Nagorno-Karabakh’s exiled president at the 
weekend after it emerged that he declared null and void his September 28 decree 
liquidating the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Samvel Shahramanian’s decree came just over a week after Azerbaijan’s military 
offensive that forced Karabakh’s small army to lay down weapons and restored 
Azerbaijani control over the region. Shahramanian said afterwards that he had to 
sign the decree in order to stop the hostilities and enable the Karabakh 
Armenians to safely flee to Armenia.

Shahramanian’s adviser Vladimir Grigorian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service Friday 
that the Karabakh leader invalidated the controversial decree on October 19 and 
that that all senior Karabakh officials will keep performing their duties after 
January 1 without getting paid.

Shahramanian met with those officials later on Friday. He was reported to tell 
them that “there is no document in the legal framework of the Republic of 
Artsakh that mandates the dissolution of state institutions.”

Armenia’s political leadership reacted furiously to the development through 
senior lawmakers representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract 

“Who is Samvel Shahramanian to sign a decree in Yerevan?” one of them, Artur 
Hovannisian, wrote on Facebook. “There is only one government in Armenia. Any 
attempt to challenge this will be seen as anti-state activity, outlawed and 
prompt the toughest measures from the state.”

Armenia - Deputies from the ruling Civil Contract party talk on the parliament 
floor, Yerevan, March 1, 2023.

Hovannisian went on to accuse Karabakh’s Yerevan-based leadership of “trying to 
involve Armenia in a new military provocation.”

“Those who signed Karabakh’s capitulation must be aware that any document signed 
in Yerevan regarding Karabakh has no legal force,” warned another pro-government 
lawmaker, Lilit Minasian.

Gevorg Papoyan, a deputy chairman of Pashinian’s party, labeled Shahramanian as 
a “forcibly displaced person” who is no different from the more than 100,000 
other Karabakh Armenians who took refuge in Armenia following Azerbaijan’s 
recapture of the region.

Armenian opposition representatives as well as some Karabakh figures rejected 
the harsh criticism and warnings voiced by Pashinian’s political team. Artak 
Beglarian, Karabakh’s former human rights ombudsman, dismissed the Armenian 
authorities’ implicit claims that Azerbaijan could use continued activities of 
Karabakh bodies as a pretext to attack Armenia as well.

“If you do not allow Artsakh’s state institutions and officials to represent the 
rights and interests of their people on various issues while you yourselves are 
not going to do it in terms of collective rights, then who should deal with 
those issues?” he wrote.

Armenia - Samvel Shahramanian meets other Karabakh officials in Yerevan, 
December 22, 2023.

Beglarian also clarified that contrary to what Grigorian said, Shahramanian did 
not specifically sign the October 19 decree to scrap his September 28 decision. 
He suggested that the Karabakh leader simply made clear that he had no legal 
authority to disband the unrecognized republic and its government bodies.

The Shahramanian aide resigned shortly after his interview with RFE/RL’s 
Armenian Service. He gave no clear reason for the decision, saying only that his 
comments “do not reflect any official position at this point.”

Even before those comments, Pashinian’s allies said that Karabakh government 
bodies should be dissolved. Parliament speaker Alen Simonian claimed on November 
16 that they would pose a “direct threat to Armenia’s security.”

In its December 10 statement, the Karabakh legislature balked at attempts to 
“finally close the Artsakh issue” while signaling its desire to discuss them 
with Pashinian’s government.

Pashinian Ends Boycott Of Ex-Soviet Summits

        • Shoghik Galstian

Russia - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian arrives in St. Petersburg, 

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian flew to Saint Petersburg on Monday to meet with 
the leaders of Russia and other ex-Soviet states after boycotting their previous 
summits amid Yerevan’s rising tensions with Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted later in the day a meeting of the 
leaders of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member states. He is due to chair 
on Tuesday a separate summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a 
larger and looser grouping of ex-Soviet republics.

Pashinian skipped EEU and CIS gatherings held in Kyrgyzstan in early October. He 
went on to boycott a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit held 
in Belarus’s capital Minsk in late November.

Other Armenian officials have also boycotted high-level CSTO meetings held in 
recent months. One of them, parliament speaker Alen Simonian, has not ruled out 
the possibility of Armenia’s exit from Russian-led military alliance accused by 
Yerevan of not honoring its security commitments. Pashinian’s government has 
said, though, that it is not yet considering such an option.

Kyrgyzstan - The leaders of Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States 
(CIS) countries pose for a group photo at a summit in Bishkek, October 13, 2023.

Speaking during a December 14 news conference, Putin suggested that Armenia is 
not planning to quit the CSTO and attributed Yerevan’s boycott of the 
organization to internal “processes” taking place in the South Caucasus country. 
And he again blamed Pashinian’s government for the recent Azerbaijani takeover 
of Nagorno-Karabakh and the exodus of its ethnic Armenian population. Pashinian 
hit back at Putin a few days later.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov indicated on Monday that the two leaders will 
meet on the sidelines of the Saint Petersburg summits. The Armenian government 
did not comment on Pashinian’s decision to attend them.

Simonian said on December 15 that Armenia should not leave the EEU or the CIS. 
He pointed to its economic dependence on Russia and described the CIS as a 
“platform for cooperation that benefits our country.”

Armen Baghdasarian, a veteran political analyst, believes that Yerevan’s current 
foreign policy is contradictory and not realistic even if Pashinian has reason 
to be unhappy with Russia and other ex-Soviet allies.

“You can’t be part of one bloc for economic reasons but see solutions to your 
security problems in another security system,” Baghdasarian told RFE/RL’s 
Armenian Service. “That’s not possible. You can’t simultaneously sit on two 

“Armenia has previously made such attempts and their results were disastrous,” 
he said.

Yerevan Decries ‘Attempts To Politicize’ Russian-Led Trade Bloc

Russia - President Vladimir Putin greets Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian 
during an EEU summit, St. Petersburg, .

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian spoke out against what he called attempts to use 
the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) for “geopolitical” purposes when he addressed 
a summit of the leaders of the Russian-led trade bloc in Saint Petersburg on 
Citing its founding treaty signed by Russia, Armenia and three other ex-Soviet 
states in 2013, Pashinian said that the EEU must not have a “political and 
especially geopolitical agenda.”

“We continue to regard [the EEU] as such and to develop partnership within the 
framework of our economic cooperation in this context, seeking to thwart all 
attempts to politicize Eurasian integration,” he said. “The EEU and its economic 
principles must not correlate with political ambitions.”

“The basic freedoms of trade and integration cannot and must not be limited due 
to political considerations. This would definitely lead to an erosion of the 
fundamental principles of the union,” he added during the summit hosted by 
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pashinian did not elaborate on his trade-related concerns voiced amid 
unprecedented tensions between his government and Moscow that have deepened 
further since beginning of September. The two sides have repeated traded 
accusations, raising questions about the future of Armenia’s traditionally close 
relationship with Russia. In the meantime, Yerevan has sought closer ties with 
the United States and the European Union.

Citing food safety concerns, a Russian government agency blocked last month the 
import of many food products from Armenia for more than a week. The 
Rosselkhoznadzor agricultural watchdog alleged a sharp increase in the presence 
of “harmful quarantined organisms” in them.

Observers believe that Moscow thus underlined its strong economic leverage 
against Armenia to warn Pashinian against further reorienting the country 
towards the West.

Russia has long been the main export market for Armenian agricultural products, 
prepared foodstuffs and alcoholic drinks. Their exports totaled roughly $960 
million in January-October 2023.

Armenia’s overall trade with Russia has skyrocketed since the Russian invasion 
of Ukraine and the resulting barrage of Western sanctions against Moscow. 
Armenian entrepreneurs have taken advantage of those sanctions, re-exporting 
various goods manufactured in Western countries to Russia. This is the main 
reason why Armenian exports to Russia tripled in 2022 and nearly doubled to $2.6 
billion in January-September 2023

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