Will Nikol Pashinyan, the "people's representative" and leader of the velvet revolution, be elected as a Prime Minister of Armenia tomorrow, which will give him the right to form a Temporary Government aimed at holding early parliamentary elections? What are the threats posed by the situation, if for the time being the political majority represented by the Republican Party of Armenia will disrupt tomorrow's election and the current crisis will enter a new stage of development? And what impact can the situation in Armenia have on the Karabakh conflict? The answers are given in the interview of ArmInfo held with an independent analyst and ex-Foreign Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh Arman Melikyan.
Mr. Melikyan, how do you assess the internal political situation in Armenia at the moment? Is it possible to expect that tomorrow the parliament will elect Nikol Pashinyan as a Prime Minister or will the Republican Party prepare a surprise?
I think that Nikol Pashinyan tomorrow should be elected as the Head of the Government unanimously by all factions of the current RA parliament, for only in this way it will be possible to avoid the fall not only in the domestic political, but also in the constitutional and legal crisis. The Republican Party of Armenia, which has a parliamentary majority, must be aware of the whole measure of its responsibility for the situation in the country and, for its part, make every effort to overcome the crisis, if it counteracts the threat of escalating into a complete collapse of the whole system of state administration. Let Nikol Pashinyan's election be unanimous, because probably not all Republicans will want to vote for him, but it is highly desirable that the majority of the faction members be able to ensure political unanimity by joining all the others. This will allow us to lean,at least formally, on the legal possibilities inherent in the new Constitution to overcome the crisis. If the Republican majority is obstinate, then probably all presidential and parliamentary elections since 1996, as well as constitutional referendums, may be declared insolvent because of total falsification of their results. This turn will further complicate the situation, which is pretty difficult already. Republicans have a chance of adequate and responsible transfer of power, which, undoubtedly, will be reckoned to them as a plus.
In your opinion, has Serzh Sargsyan completely withdrawn from politics or is it expected that he will continue shadow management?
Everything will depend on how he will use his influence, which, undoubtedly, is still preserved and, at least for a certain period of time, will be able to manifest to some extent. Serzh Sargsyan is an experienced person and I hope that he will be able to correctly navigate in this situation and use his experience and knowledge for the benefit of further development of Armenian statehood.
Nikol Pashinyan states that there is no geopolitical content in the "people's velvet revolution". Moreover, especially during the last week, his rhetoric is aimed precisely at Moscow - statements that Armenia will not leave the CSTO and will not leave the EAEU, and yesterday a promise to deepen and develop relations with the Russian Federation was voiced. What does it hint?
I think that everything is quite natural here. Armenia is a member of the EAEU, CSTO, ithere is a Russian military base located in our country, and the border with Iran and Turkey is guarded by Russian border guards. That means deep, strategic relationships between Russia and Armenia have, to maintain which is a political priority for the ruling elite of our country and personally Serzh Sargsyan, whichhas been fully supported by our Russian partners. They supported him, although could not know about the deeply rooted corruption, total falsification of the election results, administrative and judicial arbitrariness. The resignation of a trusted ally - Serzh Sargsyan, caused deepest concerns for the Russian government and political circles, for a possible change of attitude leaders toppled his protest movement to the Armenian-Russian relations could create serious problems for Russian interests at least in Regina South Caucasus and the Middle East . And it is this concern of the Russian side can be explained by the fact that Nikol Pashinyan, hastened to assure the partners in Moscow that any plans to revise the content and reformatting of the Armenian-Russian relations is not and never will be.
Almost from the first days of the movement, there were reports of the relocations of Azerbaijani manpower and equipment to the perimeter of the contact zone of the Karabakh conflict. There are many forecasts that Baku will take advantage of the current tense situation inside Armenia to strike at it from outside. Is the escalation expected now?
If tomorrow members of parliament, including most of the Republicans, do not vote in favor of Nikol Pashinyan's candidacy and lead the current internal political crisis to a new spiral of destabilization, the probability of activation of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in the contact line in the zone of the Artsakh-Azerbaijani conflict and on the border with Armenia will essentially increase.
Mr. Melikyan, what can we expect within the continuation of the negotiation process after the change of authorities in Armenia? Will there be a pause in connection with the expected parliamentary elections and other permutations in power?
I believe that a pause will be simply necessary, as in Armenia in the coming months there will be a process of forming legitimate institutions of power, which will later have to assume full responsibility for further efforts for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The sooner these institutions enter a normal working regime, the earlier it will be possible to expect progress on this issue. Naturally, the new authorities will have to learn about the results achieved by the negotiators of the parties to the conflict with the help of international mediators - the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. It is not ruled out that new ideas and approaches can appear that can accelerate a peaceful solution.