As a skillful tribune, the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian, had nevertheless chosen his words well. To announce his decision to sign a ceasefire with the Azerbaijani enemy under the aegis of Russia, he stressed how much it was “terribly painful“For him to endorse the nine points of the text, before” s‘kneel (symbolically) in front of all our martyrs“. But on the night of Monday to Tuesday, ten minutes after posting his statement on Twitter and Facebook, the first cars landed in the center of Yerevan, engines roaring and horns loudly.
In front of the seat of government, Place de la République, a thousand demonstrators gathered, determined to “Hold Nikol to account”. In the absence of the person concerned, these demonstrators entered the building, waltzed chairs and tables. In the absence of Nikol, it was the President of the National Assembly, Ararat Mirzoïan, who was attacked by the crowd and severely molested, as he rejoined his vehicle.
Identical scenes took place in front of the National Assembly. The speeches are linked on the steps of the classical pedimented building. Scenes sometimes border on hysteria. “My brother died two weeks ago, at the front, in a trench. And him, there, Nikol, what does he do from his office … he signs the capitulation with Aliev (Azerbaijani President) !», shouts a fifty-something dressed in a fatigues.
In Parliament, demonstrators roam the halls and offices of MPs. Glass breakage here and there, a few shelves are overturned, paperwork came out of the drawers as if we had wanted to verify that there were no traces of the “betrayal” of the representatives of the people. These deputies, who came to power at the end of 2018, in the wake of the velvet revolution where Nikol Pachinian had become the hero of a whole people, are now denounced.
On its knees militarily, Armenia has certainly had the terms of the ceasefire dictated. The evacuation will be total of the seven districts occupied by Armenia since the war of 1991-1994, with the loss of pieces of Karabakh itself, including the villages of Hadrut and especially of Shushi (the Shusha of the Azerbaijanis), if dear to the hearts of Armenians for its cultural and religious heritage. Only one road will be kept, the one that passes through the Latchine corridor, to link the Republic of Armenia to the independence province, landlocked in enemy territory.
Neither is it out of cheerfulness that the Armenians see a Russian interposition force landed, made up of 1,960 soldiers and border guards. And this for five years, automatically renewable for five new years. However, this provides the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh with security guarantees that they have not ceased to demand for years, over the course of the conflict resolution plans proposed by one or the other. On the Armenian side we can also be relieved that Turkey does not have any intervention forces on the ground.
On the other hand, the future status of the province, posed by the Armenian side as a prerequisite for each peace agreement, remains unclear. The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, said he was very happy with this agreement, which he describes as “capitulationOf Armenia, because, he specifies, it offers a complete resolution of the conflict in the long term, because it respects “The principles of international law“. According to him, Nagorno-Karabakh will remain under Azerbaijani jurisdiction, international law prevailing over the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination. No one knows what the status of Nagorno-Karabakh will be, this Republic of Artsakh of the Armenians, formally under Azerbaijani jurisdiction, but living in quasi-independence. One thing is certain, the displaced people must return to their homes and apartments.
Despite the military advantage of Azerbaijan, and the looming threat of the oil dictatorship seizing the entire disputed province, after the capture of the so strategic Shushi, the Russian mediation succeeded in imposing its plans, obtaining each other’s concessions, and to retain his role as arbiter of the game in the South Caucasus. This is a meager advantage that Mr. Pachinian will undoubtedly have a hard time asserting to his electorate. In Armenia, making concessions on Artsakh is akin to suicide for a politician. In 1998, the first president of Armenia had to step down after negotiating a settlement of the Karabakh conflict based on mutual concessions between Baku and Yerevan.
It will be all the more difficult since Mr. Pachinian came to power thanks to the sole support of the people, tired by the corruption and the great poverty which plague the country. Neither Moscow, which accuses it of having systematically weakened its relays in Yerevan, nor the Armenian politico-oligarchic powers are favorable to it. He is also often his own worst enemy: unwilling to listen to advice, willingly giver of lessons, often harsh with the people. It only remains for him to refocus on the ideas that brought him to power, starting with improving the living conditions of 2.9 million Armenians. Armenians who did not go out into the streets on Tuesday, after a night of anger.