A row between the Armenian Government and former officials from Nagorno-Karabakh is continuing over attempts to form a government-in-exile out of Yerevan.
On Monday, the leader of Ardarutyun, a political party from Nagorno-Karabakh, told RFE/RL that anyone who opposed the continued functioning of Nagorno-Karabakh’s state institutions supported the ‘destruction of Artsakh’s [Nagorno-Karabakh’s] statehood.’
Similarly, in a thinly veiled attack on the Armenian Government last week, a group of former MPs from Nagorno-Karabakh decried the ‘intensity of steps’ being taken and the ‘aggressive behaviour’ of ‘parties interested in the final closure of the Artsakh issue.’
The MPs made the statement following a visit to the Yerablur Military Cemetery in Yerevan on the anniversary of the disputed 1991 independence referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenian officials have grown increasingly hostile to the idea of proposals to form a government-in-exile, warning it could be used by Azerbaijan as a pretext to take military action against Armenia.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the ‘inevitability’ of Nagorno-Karabakh’s dissolution due to the negotiation status his government inherited after coming to power in 2018. And on Monday, in response to the statement by former MPs from Nagorno-Karabakh, the deputy chair of the ruling Civil Contract Party, Gevorg Papoyan, accused them of posing a direct threat to Armenia’s security.
‘They signed a capitulation agreement, disbanded the Nagorno-Karabakh army, handed over weapons to Azerbaijan, dissolved the Nagorno-Karabakh National Assembly and came to Armenia — now they want to hold a parliamentary session here?’
‘Is this a ticking time bomb in Armenia?’, asked Papoyan.
After Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh in September, forcing the government’s surrender, President Samvel Shahramanyan issued a decree to dissolve the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and all of its state institutions.
Earlier in November, Papoyan had stressed that Armenia could not allocate funds to Nagorno-Karabakh’s state institutions.
‘We should not do such things that would give the other side an opportunity to challenge the territorial integrity of Armenia and torpedo the peace process’, he stated.
Other officials in Armenia have voiced similar sentiments.
In mid-November, the speaker of the Armenian Parliament, Alen Simonyan, said that establishing a government in exile would be a ‘direct threat and a blow to Armenia’s security’.
And in late November, Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan said that the establishment of a Nagorno-Karabakh government in exile was unnecessary.
‘There is a Republic of Armenia, whose institutions are functioning. What function should they [Nagorno-Karabakh] perform? Armenia protects the rights of Artsakh Armenians’, Khachaturyan told reporters.
However, since fleeing the Azerbaijani takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh in September, many officials have insisted that they continue to represent the region’s former ethnic-Armenian population.
In late October, Nagorno-Karabakh’s last president, Samvel Shahramanyan, disowned the surrender document dissolving Nagorno-Karabakh, stating that a ‘republic created by the people cannot be dissolved by any document’.
A few days later, Shahramanyan and a group of former Nagorno-Karabakh officials gathered in Yerevan to discuss ‘preserving the statehood’ of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The meeting was organised by the Committee for the Preservation of Artsakh Statehood, founded by Suren Petrosyan, an Armenian opposition figure.
Petrosyan dismissed concerns that a government in exile based in Armenia could put the country at risk of an Azerbaijani attack because the Armenian government would not be involved in a Nagorno-Karabakh administration.
For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.