RFE/RL Armenian Service – 01/16/2024


Ruling Party Figure Less Upbeat On Peace With Azerbaijan

        • Shoghik Galstian
        • Karlen Aslanian

Armenia - Gevorg Papoyan.

The deputy chairman of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party 
said on Tuesday that he is less optimistic about a peace treaty between Armenia 
and Azerbaijan after statements from Baku made in recent weeks.

Gevorg Papoyan insisted at the same time that the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace 
process is not deadlocked. He linked the current state of that process to 
preparations for Azerbaijan’s snap presidential election slated for February 7.

“As long as there is a possibility to talk, negotiate and exchange proposals … I 
will not speak of such a situation [deadlock,]” Papoyan told reporters. “But I 
must say that at least I am not as optimistic as I could have been.”

As recently as in December, Pashinian and his political allies reported major 
progress made in Armenian-Azerbaijani talks and said the peace treaty could be 
signed soon. However, subsequent statements made by Azerbaijani President Ilham 
Aliyev and his top aides exposed lingering serious differences between the 
conflicting sides. In particular, Baku renewed its demands for an 
extraterritorial corridor that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan 
exclave through Armenia.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan spoke on January 10 of “regression” in 
the latest Azerbaijani proposals on the treaty sent to Yerevan. Mirzoyan 
indicated that Baku is reluctant to explicitly recognize Armenia’s borders 
through the peace deal. For his part, Pashinian said on January 13 that Aliyev’s 
demands amount to territorial claims to Armenia.

Armenian opposition leaders portray these developments as another vindication of 
their warnings that Pashinian’s declared “peace agenda” is on the contrary 
increasing the risk of another Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

Armenia -- Levon Zurabian at a news conference in Yrevan, May 27, 2021.

Levon Zurabian, the deputy chairman of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s 
Armenian National Congress (HAK), said on Tuesday that Aliyev never gave up the 
idea of the so-called “Zangezur corridor” and is planning to try to open it by 

“The fact is that Aliyev is gearing up for a new war,” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s 
Armenian Service.

“We mainly hear claims about peace from Pashinian, who I strongly believe is 
trying to present the situation in a way that corresponds to his propaganda 
goals but has nothing to do with reality,” he said. “Our authorities don’t 
understand what’s going on in international politics. They don’t understand 
ongoing processes and dangers.”

EU Again Warns Azerbaijan Against Attacking Armenia

Armenia - European Union monitors patrol Armenia's border with Azerbaijan.

The European Union on Tuesday again warned Azerbaijan against invading Armenia 
following Baku’s renewed demands for Yerevan to open an extraterritorial 
corridor to the Nakhichevan exclave.

“The EU has been using every opportunity to pass clear messages to Azerbaijan 
that any violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity would be unacceptable and 
will have severe consequences for our relations,” the EU foreign policy 
spokesman, Peter Stano, told the Armenpress news agency.

“We remain firm and steadfast in this stance,” Stano said, commenting on 
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s latest statements on the conflict with 

Aliyev said last week that Azerbaijani people and cargo transported to and from 
Nakhichevan through Armenia’s Syunik province must be exempt from Armenian 
border checks. He also demanded Armenian withdrawal from “eight Azerbaijani 
villages” and again dismissed Yerevan’s insistence on using the most recent 
Soviet maps to delimit the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian rejected Aliyev’s demands, saying that they 
amount to territorial claims to Armenia. Pashinian also accused Baku of 
undermining prospects for the signing of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty 
strongly supported by the EU and the United States.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, issued the same warning to Baku in 
November as the 27-nation bloc decided to deploy more observers to Armenia’s 
volatile border with Azerbaijan. The EU launched the monitoring mission in 
February 2023 with the stated aim of preventing or reducing ceasefire violations 

EU officials have so far not elaborated on the “severe consequences” for 
Azerbaijan. They resisted calls to impose sanctions on Baku even after last 
September’s Azerbaijani military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh that forced the 
region’s practically entire population to flee to Armenia.

Some analysts linked their stance to a 2022 agreement to significantly increase 
the EU’s import of Azerbaijani natural gas. The head of the European Commission, 
Ursula von der Leyen, described Azerbaijan as a “key partner in our efforts to 
move away from Russian fossil fuels” when she signed the deal in Baku.

Armenia Reports First Delivery Of ‘Delayed’ Russian Weapons

        • Ruzanna Stepanian

Armenia -- The Armenian Defense Ministry building, Yerevan.

After repeated delays, Russia has delivered to Armenia the first batch of 
weapons envisaged by bilateral defense contracts signed after the 2020 war in 
Nagorno-Karabakh, according to senior Armenian lawmakers.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his political allies have repeatedly 
complained about those delays amid Armenia’s worsening relations with Russia. 
Deputy Defense Minister Hrachya Sargsyan said in early December that Yerevan 
paid Russia’s state-owned arms manufacturers $400 million but has still not 
received any military equipment so far. He too declined to specify the types of 
weaponry that are listed in those contracts.

Andranik Kocharian, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defense 
and security, said late last week that some of those weapons have been delivered 
to Armenia.

“[The Russians] are giving us something, not on a scale anticipated by us in 
line with the volume of the signed contracts,” Kocharian told Armenian Public 
Television. “But I’m sure that things will be sorted out in the process.”

Gagik Melkonian, another pro-government member of the parliament committee, 
confirmed on Tuesday the first delivery of the Russian weapons, saying that it 
was carried out “recently.”

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Melkonian claimed to be unaware of what 
exactly was supplied to the Armenian army. The Armenian Defense Ministry also 
did not shed light on that.

Armenia -- Gagik Melkonian speaks to RFE/RL, February 8, 2019.

Russia’s ambassador to Armenia, Sergei Kopyrkin, acknowledged late last month 
“issues” in the implementation of Russian-Armenian arms deals. He implied that 
Russian defense companies have not fulfilled their contractual obligations on 
time because of having to manufacture more weapons for the Russian military 
embroiled in the continuing war with Ukraine.

“But these are working issues that are resolved in the dialogue between relevant 
agencies of Russia and Armenia,” Kopyrkin told the TASS news agency. The two 
sides are now also “discussing new agreements in the field of military-technical 
cooperation,” he said without elaborating.

Russia has long been Armenia’s principal supplier of weapons and ammunition. But 
with no end in sight to the war in Ukraine and tensions between Moscow and 
Yerevan continuing to grow, the Armenian government is increasingly looking for 
other arms suppliers.

Since September 2022 it has reportedly signed a number of defense contracts with 
India worth at least $400 million. In October 2023, it also signed two arms 
deals with France. Pashinian and members of his political team say that this is 
part of their broader efforts to “diversify” Armenia’s defense and security 
policy. They regularly accuse Moscow of not honoring its security commitments to 
its South Caucasus ally.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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