Author: Natig NAZIMOGHLU
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian continues to make explicitly provocative statements that seriously damage the ongoing peace process in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, his statements sound absurd and are principally against both the common sense and international law. Undoubtedly, Pashinian's statements are primarily addressed to local population, and the purpose is to protect his own selfish interests.
Pashinian's thoughts and yet another fiasco
Soon after Pashinian’s sensational statement that "Karabakh belongs to Armenia. Period", the “father of Armenian democracy” made another “wise” statement, which confirmed his readiness to substitute facts and truth for the sake of achieving some benefits in the local political circles. It is clear why he cannot score these benefits in foreign policy domain as well. Such ignorant statements, both in scientific, historical and political-legal aspects, take Armenia to nowhere, only driving it into a deadlock of isolation while bringing Azerbaijan closer to the war for the liberation of its territories from Armenian occupation.
In his address made at the annual meeting with Armenian ambassadors and heads of consular services, Pashinian said that "Karabakh left the Soviet Azerbaijan in the same way as Soviet Azerbaijan left the USSR." Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry gave a thorough answer to this statement, which is unworthy not only for the head of government, but even for a school pupil, and yet again raise doubts about professional suitability of the Armenian leader.
Apparently, Pashinian is not concerned about his professional suitability, because his government continues, contrary to previous promises of the leaders of "velvet revolution", to flounder in a swamp of despair and hopelessness. Experts predict a hot political autumn for Armenia and Pashinian personally, which is expected to turn into confrontation with the so-called Karabakh Clan.
This scenario will undoubtedly take place around the former President of Armenia Robert Kocharian, who is still detained. Strong resistance from the ranks of the Constitutional Court to criminal prosecution of Kocharian proves the fierce struggle around the events of March 1, 2008. As a result, the court now has two chairmen at once, one of whom was appointed by the Pashinian government. Opponents of the prime minister accuse him of striving to subjugate the judicial system, as he did before with the legislative and executive branches of the government. However, for Pashinian, the confrontation with the Karabakh Clan seems to be a matter of vital importance, his own political survival, and his plans to bring an obedient leadership to power in the occupied Karabakh.
The former Minister of Defense of the separatist regime of Karabakh, Samvel Babayan, is called a possible protégé of Pashinian in the so-called Nagorno Karabakh Republic. There is reason to believe that Pashinian is preparing Babayan for the post of the President of NKR at the elections scheduled for next year. However, Pashinian has serious difficulties to make his final choice for the leadership of the separatist regime, which remains a hotbed of disobedience to the will of the Armenian “velvet revolution”. Apparently, the upcoming elections to local governing bodies of NKR this September will be general rehearsal of the “presidential battle”. Pashinian is very buys now with putting together an opposition party against the supporters of Bako Sahakyan, the incumbent president of Nagorno Karabakh, who is close to Kocharian.
Is it the reason why Pashinian periodically makes demagogic statements on the future of Karabakh, trying to win over the "radical" Karabakh Armenians and weaken the position of the Karabakh Clan? And why didn’t he decide to use such an instrument as supporting the Soros institutions, to which he himself was to a large extent obliged to come to power in Armenia, which had been under the rule of the Karabakh Clan for more than 20 years?
Impossible to leave Soros?
On August 22, Armenian government unanimously approved the funding of an observation mission at the so-called “local government elections” in Nagorno-Karabakh. In particular, the government is going to transfer 17 million 480 thousand drams to Transparency International funded by the Soros Foundation. By the way, after coming to power, Pashinian immediately appointed Armen Grigoryan, the coordinator of the election programs of Transparency International, as the head of the Security Council of Armenia, which clearly demonstrated the geopolitical essence of the “velvet-revolutionary” government. Realities of Armenian life, which in many respects depended on military-political and economic support from Russia, made Pashinian and his entourage somewhat keep distance from Soros, i.e. Western influence. Hence the noticeable softening of harsh anti-Russian rhetoric performed by Pashinian’s young bloc members.
However, the decision of the current Armenian government to rely on Soros and his team to monitor the upcoming elections in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh indicates that the allegations of Pashinian’s release from Western control are groundless, although the US President Donald Trump and other senior representatives of his administration have refused for more than a year to meet with the new Armenian leader, who represents himself almost as a standard democrat of global scale. Perhaps Trump is not impressed by Pashinian because he knows for certain the role of his personal ill-wisher George Soros in the Armenian “revolution”.
Anyway, it is obvious that the Pashinian regime is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain its connection with the leading financial centres of the West amidst the anti-Russian hysteria developing in Armenia and the role of Russia as a guarantor of the security of its South Caucasian outpost. The story around the Amulsar gold mine adds to controversy in this plane as well.
The mine puzzle
Lydian Armenia, a subsidiary of British Lydian International, has conducted exploration at the Amulsar gold mine since 2007. In 2015, the company received a production license, which, however, stalled due to protests by environmentalists and ordinary citizens expressing concern that the operation of the field is causing serious damage to the environment.
In July 2018, the Investigative Committee of Armenia opened a criminal case for deliberate hiding of environmental pollution data as a result of the operation of the Amulsar mine by officials of the Ministry of Environment. Operation of the field was suspended pending expert evaluation by Earth Link & Advanced Resources Development (ELARD), an international company. On August 15, 2019, experts presented their final conclusion, which indicates that the likely environmental risks of the Amulsar mine can be overcome through the adoption of a number of measures. Hence, Prime Minister Pashinian said at a special meeting held at the residence of Armenian President Armen Sargsyan that mining at Amulsar serves the interests of the state. However, environmental activists opposing the resumption of operations organised a protest in the centre of Yerevan, which was later dispersed by the police.
Armenian media spread allegations that the corruption factor influenced the decision of the authorities to resume operations at the mine. Prosecutor General’s Office of Armenia even petitioned the National Security Service to check how consistent and valid the reports on corruption schemes are. In addition, the media disseminates information about the split within the "revolutionary" leadership of Armenia. A number of MPs from the Pashinian’s My Step bloc even disagreed with the prime minister’s statement at the presidential residence and the further development of the mining field.
However, the strange things going around the Amulsar mine have suddenly manifested themselves on the foreign policy arena. Remarkably, the US insisted on the resumption of production at the mine by Lydian, and even set this a condition for the influx of Western investment in Armenia. Therefore, Pashinian could not resist the pressure of Washington, especially since a year ago he promised an investment boom in the country of the victorious “velvet revolution”. The investment boom did not and could not occur in Armenia, isolated from regional integration processes as a result of aggression against Azerbaijan. But in fact Armenia is bouncing between its current boss (Russia) and the desired one (the West). It is not surprising that Pashinian is still trying hard to solve the issue of Amulsar, and does not know how to react to Russia's zealous attitude toward the gold mine, which the poorest South Caucasian country can frivolously transfer to Americans and British.
Apparently, Pashinian is going to have a hot autumn this year. It is too early to predict the future of Pashinian's political career. Though it is clear that the chances that he is going to have a hot autumn in political sense are quite possible, given his persistence to earn political points by making provocative statements on Karabakh. Apparently, he does not have any other option to score more points anyway.