CrisisWatch Armenia

Unchanged Situation

Peace talks with Azerbaijan continued, protests against border delimitation deal spread to capital, and relations with Russia remained strained.

Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process saw more positive momentum. Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process gained momentum following border agreement in April, in which Yerevan agreed to return four villages to Baku, with leaders from both sides expressing optimism about signing peace deal by Nov climate conference (COP29) in Azerbaijan. Notably, PM Pashinyan 14 May said “the time has come” to sign deal; earlier, Azerbaijani President Aliyev 23 April said “it is absolutely realistic to reach an agreement… before COP29”. Country’s FMs 10-11 May held talks in Kazakh city Almaty. Countries’ border delimitation commissions 15 May held their ninth meeting, signed protocol confirming demarcation of section of their northernmost border as per April agreement; Baku 24 May assumed control of four villages, with troops from both sides responsible for protecting their respective sections of newly demarcated border segment. 

Protests against border deal led by Archbishop Galstanyan continued. Protests that erupted in Tavush region in response to border deal continued. Archbishop Galstanyan of Tavush Diocese emerged as prominent leader of movement, 4 May instigating march from Tavush to capital Yerevan. Church backed demonstrations, with Supreme Spiritual Council 7 May urging govt to heed protesters’ demands. Upon reaching Yerevan, tens of thousands 9 May converged at Republic Square, where Galstanyan called for govt’s resignation; protests continued in following days, leading to hundreds of arrests amid confrontations with police. Following brief lull, thousands 26 May attended demonstration in Yerevan where Galstanyan reiterated his intention to challenge Pashinyan and declared readiness to lead new interim government. Parliament speaker Alen Simonian 21 May condemned Church for meddling in politics, suggesting govt may take steps to limit its involvement. 

Relations with Russia cooled further. Pashinyan and Russian President Putin 8 May agreed on withdrawal of Russian border guards from several regions in Armenia and Zvartnots International Airport; Foreign Ministry 7 May announced Armenia will cease financial contributions to Russia-led military alliance, Collective Security Treaty Organization; and Kremlin 24 May recalled its ambassador to Armenia for consultations, but gave no reason for move.

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