With his party’s victory in the snap parliamentary elections and a new calm on the frontlines with Azerbaijan, Armenia’s leader Nikol Pashinyan and his team will have more space to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Snap parliamentary elections held 9 Dec resulted in PM Pashinyan’s My Step alliance receiving more than 70% of votes (88 out of 132 seats). Former ruling Republican party and Dashnaktsutyun party did not pass 5% threshold to enter parliament. Prosperous Armenia party won 26 seats and Bright Armenia eighteen seats. International Election Observation Mission reported elections “were held with respect for fundamental freedoms and enjoyed broad public trust” and with just minor problems; some local observers pointed to inaccuracies in voter lists affecting turnout numbers. Meeting with Russian President Putin in Russia 27 Dec, Pashinyan said Armenia “committed to further integration” with Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, of which Armenia’s rotating presidency begins 1 Jan. Russia 31 Dec announced 10% increase in natural gas price for Armenia.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are once again on collision course along increasingly active front lines in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. Mediators Russia, France and the U.S., should pressure Yerevan and Baku to tone down inflammatory rhetoric, agree to talks and take steps towards peace.
Stronger international engagement is needed to help prevent the deadly conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan from escalating gravely at a time of internal political tensions in both.
Unless Armenia’s next presidential election is fair and gives its winner a strong political mandate, the government will lack the legitimacy needed to implement comprehensive reforms, tackle corruption and negotiate a peaceful end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Escalating front-line clashes, a spiralling arms race, vitriolic rhetoric and a virtual breakdown in peace talks increase the chance Armenia and Azerbaijan will go back to war over Nagorno-Karabakh, with devastating regional consequences.
Turkey and Armenia are close to settling a dispute that has long roiled Caucasus politics, isolated Armenia and cast a shadow over Turkey’s European Union (EU) ambition.
Armenia’s flawed presidential election, the subsequent lethal crackdown against a peaceful protest rally, the introduction of a state of emergency and extensive arrests of opposition supporters have brought the country to its deepest crisis since the war against Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh ended in 1994.
The general public sees Mr. Kocharian as a person responsible for accelerating the political stagnation that led to economic decline and social problems in [Armenia].
The [Armenian] government generally supports a deeper militarization of society. The reforms discussed plan to merge everyday life with military service – the so-called 'army-society' model.
Armenia’s new government will likely adhere to long-held positions in its 30-year conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. But the two sides need more direct communication in the conflict zone. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018 – Second Update early warning report, Crisis Group urges European policymakers to help forge these links to avoid renewed fighting.
Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on seizing a chance for peace in Mali, avoiding escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh, mitigating conflict in Syria’s peripheral regions, and helping Somalia overcome obstacles to reform. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.
Azerbaijan regards Armenia’s “velvet revolution” as both hopeful and worrying. Baku hoped Yerevan’s new leadership might bring a fresh approach to negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. But, thus far, to many Azerbaijanis that leadership sounds less flexible than its predecessor.
A rare meeting between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on 16 October 2017 could lead to a breakthrough. But the two countries have very different ideas on how to reconcile their competing narratives and goals in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Originally published in JAM News
Originally published in Factor