Read daily news summary for January 27 here.
The Nagorno Karabakh conflict has not been resolved – Armenian FM
‘The Nagorno Karabakh conflict has not been resolved,’ Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan told on Thursday, PanArmenian.am reports. He explained that the key issue remains the clarification of the status of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), which has been discussed by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. He added that the co-chairs’ upcoming regional visit is expected.
“In order to be able to speak about stability, security, and peace in the region, we must first create an atmosphere of trust, which will be possible, first of all, after the release of our prisoners of war. I think Azerbaijan should understand that this is a humanitarian issue, and if this issue is further manipulated, the situation will become problematic for Azerbaijan,” the Foreign minister said.
In Ayvazyan’s words, there is an interdepartmental working group that is working on a daily basis on the return of POWs.
Later, an airplane bringing five Armenian war prisoners, who were captured by Azerbaijani forces, landed in Yerevan.
According to the Moscow-brokered trilateral peace truce signed, which ended the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war on November 9, prisoners of war, as well as other detained persons, should be immediately released and returned. After more than two months of the truce, Armenian PoWs, captured during and after the war, have been kept by Azerbaijan. ECtHR urged Azerbaijani authorities to provide information about the Armenian captives and have not received any information to this date. Earlier, a stream of videos depicting Armenian PoWs tortured and killed by Azerbaijani forces had been circulated through social media channels.
Armenian second President Kocharyan will participate in elections
Armenian second President (1998-2008) Robert Kocharyan said that he and his political allies will participate in snap parliamentary elections and win them even if they are held by Armenia’s current government, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports.
‘We have all the tools and a team necessary for the political fight,’ Kocharyan said. According to him, it is dangerous to have a snap election without stabilizing the situation in the country full of uncertainties, controversies, and the absence of answers to sensitive questions. In Kocharyan’s words, there is a need for a ‘time-lag’ before elections which will start from Pashinyan’s resignation.
'But if the authorities manage to force the elections sooner – and they seem to have enough votes in the parliament – I don’t think that not participating [in them] will be right. I think that participating will be right. Or else, we will enable these people [in power] to re-establish their rule,' Kocharyan said.
Speaking about anti-government protests, Kocharyan said he shares the opposition's concerns over snap elections in the conditions the country found itself in after the recent Nagorno Karabakh war.
In response to Pashinyan’s recent statement to hold a snap election, the opposition ‘Homeland Salvation Movement’ – a coalition of 17 parties demanding Pashinyan’s resignation – announced that they distrust Pashinyan in organizing fair elections. The opposition proposed to form an interim government with Vazgen Manukyan as an interim Prime Minister and hold new elections one year later.
Earlier today protesters demanding PM Pashinyan’s resignation gathered at the main square of Yerevan, Armenpress.am reports.
‘Today we did what was beyond our powers, showing that we are ready to keep our word. Now I ask you not to take any measures because our powers are not equal. If the number of our protesters was large enough, the police would behave differently and would protect us,’ said one of the organizers of the rally. Later, the organizers of the protest informed that Arshak Zakaryan, one of the organizers, has been arrested.
Other news from Armenia
- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the Ministry of Defense on the occasion of Army Day - the 29th anniversary of the formation of the Armenian Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, PM’s press office reports.
‘The Armenian army, the Republic of Armenia, Artsakh, the Armenian people have gone through a severe, cruel ordeal that had to do with the 44-day war,’ PM said referring to the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war. ‘Of course, today we must ask ourselves what we have failed to do in order to ensure high-level fighting capacity for our country and the army,’ Pashinyan said.
In PM’s words, the security of the Republic of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Armenian people is an absolute priority today. ‘The number one tool to ensure proper security is the Armenian Army, the Armed Forces of Armenia,’ Pashinyan added.
‘We must re-evaluate these challenges, our agenda; we must formulate new approaches, new perceptions, and understandings on this agenda, which must guarantee the security of our country,’ Pashinyan noted.
- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan received Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French Secretary of State for Europe and Foreign Affairs on Thursday, PM’s press office informs.
‘There has traditionally been a sincere top-level dialogue between our two countries, and I want to express our gratitude to President Macron and Foreign Minister Le Drian for showing personal concern from the very first day of the war,’ PM Pashinyan said during the meeting. For his part, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne noted: ‘“It was very important for our President to respond to each of your needs as quickly as possible.’
Issues related to the development of Armenia-France relations, including economic partnership, attracting investments, and providing financial assistance were discussed at the meeting. The parties considered promising interaction in the spheres of transport, reservoir construction, agriculture, high technologies, as well as cooperation in the development of regional communications.
- Under the joint leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator and UNHCR, the United Nations Country Team, together with NGO partners, launched the Armenia Inter-Agency Response Plan, Armenpress.am reports.
The Response Plan runs until the end of June 2021 and serves as a coordination and advocacy tool. It outlines priorities for the humanitarian response, and achievements to date as well as appealing for the resources necessary to address the needs of the 90,000 people who have sought refuge in Armenia and of the hosting communities who have welcomed them. The Response Plan involves 36 humanitarian partners and 188 projects with total financial requirements amounting to USD 62.6 million across six key sectors: protection, including child protection; education; shelter and non-food items; food security and nutrition; health, and early-recovery.
- Armenia has further improved its position in an annual survey of corruption perceptions around the world conducted by Transparency International, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service It ranked, together with Jordan and Slovakia, 60th out of 180 countries and territories evaluated in the Berlin-based watchdog’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released on Thursday. ‘It is the second largest [CPI score] increase in the world after the Maldives,’ the watchdog’s note reads. Armenia was 105th in the corruption perception rankings two years ago. ‘A country to watch last year, Armenia has taken a gradual approach to reform, resulting in steady and positive improvements in anti-corruption,’ Transparency International report says.