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«Government turns deaf ear to public demands»: April war has produced questions to Armenia's authorities

Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan. Photo: vestikavkaza.ru

The recent escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has cast doubts on adequacy of the Armenian leadership’s actions in the new military situation and uncovered its weak points. As the ceasefire is being violated on a daily basis and no final decisions has been made to relaunch the negotiations on Karabakh, the Armenian politicians urge serious changes in the government. Otherwise, they say, the situation may spiral out of control. By resuming the military actions, Baku sought to get more favorable terms of joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and to bargain more favorable conditions for itself in case of Russia’s military presence in the region. The former foreign minister of Nagorno-Karabakh Arman Melikyan made such remarks talking to EADaily’s correspondent. Melikyan is sure that Aliyev was given carte-blanche to unleash military actions, but he “has failed everything.” Yet, he said, Armenia must not drop guard. “The April military actions gave a chance to the public to challenge the authorities. This situation cannot continue any longer. If the people’s demands for changes are rejected once again, the situation inside Armenia may spiral out of control,” he said. 

A question arises as to whether the actions and decisions of Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan in the new situation meet the expectations of the public. Arman Melikyan believes that only one of the Armenian leader’s statements was a weighty argument and the public has welcomed it – the refusal from deployment of peacekeepers in the conflict zone.

“The situation remains rather tense, but the given statement was at least welcomed. It is necessary to reckon with the new political realities we are living in and act adequately at all levels. Otherwise, losses will be inevitable,” Melikyan said.

Tevan Poghosyan, an Armenian lawmaker from the Heritage opposition party, in turn, said that in early April the public hoped that the new situation is an opportunity to make the necessary changes, as the time has come for it yet long ago. The people hoped the gaps that the government neglected will be filled finally. However, nothing has happened for some unknown reason, Poghosyan said, and the public is disappointed with Serzh Sargsyan who failed to fulfill even part of their demands and expectations. 

“We know that Armenia has problems with optimization of management solutions, but it appears that the government avoids making steps to remove these problems. A month after we have three resignations (in the military command - EADaily) and nothing else, though many people in various fields must be brought accountable in the light of the recent developments. If nothing is changed, the situation may turn unmanageable,” the parliamentarian said.

In addition, Tevan Poghosyan went on, changes are extremely necessary, not only because escalation of the situation in the conflict zone is anticipated within the nearest future.  “It will be a protracted war and we need a strong rear,” he said.

Stepan Safaryan, the head of the Armenian Institute for International Relations and Security, says the recent military actions in Karabakh revealed the problems both inside Armenia and in its foreign policy. The approaches have changed as well.

“These days one can very often hear calls for relying on one’s own forces and stopping to trust the allies. What we are observing now is dispelling of the Armenian policy’s stereotypes of the recent years. We have been told for long years that we cannot do without Russia, but the April developments showed that we are the winners. It was Russia that stopped our rapid advance. Serzh Sargsyan has also confirmed that fact in a statement,” Stepan Safaryan said.

As for the public demands, the longer the government ignores them, the more rapidly the public will understand the need of a power shift. In such situation, this may be explosive.  In this light, the latest scandalous statement by Hermine Naghdalyan, Vice Speaker of the Armenian Parliament, have become a kind of mood indicator in the ruling elite. The vice speaker said the territories around Nagorno-Karabakh and controlled by the Armenian side should be returned to Azerbaijan. Experts say those “careless” at first sight statements have far-reaching goals and it was not a slip of the tongue.

“The politician just repeated the statements the government representatives had been making for years. However, at present it is important not to focus on that statement. Instead, it is necessary to understand that the ‘four-day war’ has proved the uselessness of the ‘territories in exchange for status’ formula,” said the former foreign minister of Nagorno-Karabakh Arman Melikyan.

By Lia Khojoyan for EADaily

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