SECOND NAGORNO-KARABAKH WAR THAT HAPPENED IN 2020 AND ENDED WITH DEFEAT OF ARMENIA, NEGATIVELY INFLUENCED POLITICAL SITUATION, AND DEMOCRATIZATION PROCESS IN ARMENIA. OPPOSITION PARTIES AND MANY CITIZENS DEMANDED RESIGNATION OF NIKOL PASHINYAN AFTER WAR.
Due to failed policy of the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia was defeated in the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. Pashinyan’s weak connection with Russia, statements about the military, and cold relationship with the President and other members of government influenced defeat in the war too.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict started after the collapse of the Soviet Union when countries that were under Soviet Union rule got independence. In the area of Karabakh were living Azerbaijanis and Armenians together, but after the collapse of the USSR, Karabakh became a part of Azerbaijan that was recognized internationally. However, the Armenians were not happy with this decision and wanted to create their republic there. Starting from 1988, with the leadership of Ter- Petrosyan, Armenia started occupying the internationally recognized areas of Azerbaijan, Karabakh’s cities. This act led to the start of the first Nagorno-Karabakh War that continued till 1994. Karabakh was occupied by Armenia’s military till 2020. Negotiations between the states and leaders of these two countries did not yield any results, and the second Nagorno-Karabakh war started between the countries in 2020. In this war, Azerbaijan was able to reclaim its internationally recognized territories.
After the defeat of Armenia’s military and government, protests started in the cities of Armenia, especially in Yerevan. Protestors entered Parliament, vandalized everything and even one of them stole the laptop of the Prime Minister. Opposition parties were blaming Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan that came to power in 2018 with the revolution that was called the “Velvet Revolution” and demanded his resignation. Pashinyan came into power with this revolution and was a political journalist since 1991. Many people were criticizing Pashinyan for the defeat and some were blaming Russia because Russia did not give free military aid and weapons to Armenia in contrast to the first Nagorno-Karabakh war. A Russian blogger named Romanov traveled to Armenia and shot a video from the protest near the Parliament building. In the video, he was asking Armenian’s opinion about the war and the government, and a woman there stated that Russia should have helped Armenia by providing free weapons, but not selling weapons to Azerbaijan. Also, some people were criticizing the Russian government and the Russian President Vladimir Putin for not helping them in war, and according to one person in the video, the Kremlin dislikes Pashinyan, and Armenia has lost the war because of Pashinyan’s cold relations with Russia.
Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian in his interview with the Russian Tv program RBK stated that one of the reasons Armenia lost the war was that Pashinyan and government should have created a good relationship with Russia, but unfortunately this strong connection was unsuccessful. Azerbaijan is an oil-rich country with a strong military, but Armenia needs help from strong countries like USA, or Russia. However, Russia did not give free weapons to Armenia during the war, despite Pashinyan’s many calls to the Russian President. Some political experts believe the reason behind this can be Putin’s relationship with Pashinyan. Putin’s understanding and ideology of ruling the country is differing a lot from Pashinyan’s western ideology. Pashinyan is not like the previous populist leader of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, he is more democratic and trying to rule the country with western ideology. Pashinyan came to power to create democracy in Armenia and overcome authoritarianism. In addition to it, he aimed to destroy monopolies, tyranny, and corruption in the country. His close relationship with Western countries and connection with their understanding of democracy is not approved or liked by the Russian government. After signing a peace document between Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, Pashinyan was not seen in public for many days, and people were screaming in the streets of Yerevan “Where is Nikol” or “Where is that traitor?”. However, after returning to his Prime Minister position, he fired many high-ranking officials, army leaders, and “The army is not a political institution and attempts to entangle it in political processes are inappropriate,” he said about the army leaders (Barclay, 2021). This statement created even more chaos, disagreement, and conflict between the military and government. Later on, Pashinyan apologized for his words, statements toward the military and stated that his comments were because of his emotional condition. This chaos negatively influenced the democratization process in Armenia.
On April 1, Nikol Pashinyan utilized his coalition’s control of parliament to amend the electoral code. Armenians used to vote for parties, coalitions, and individual candidates under a two-tiered party-list proportional system to elect MPs to parliament. Voters will only be able to choose candidates from party lists under the new election regulations (Barclay, 2021). After this, many opposition parties and citizens of Armenia stated that it will be easier for Pashinyan to win in the upcoming election. All members of opposition parties were against this law and voted against it. However, Nikol Pashinyan’s alliance My Step controlled 70% of seats in parliament, and it helped them with passing low without any doubt. Protests were held for many months, and in March, Pashinyan stated that elections will be held in summer. In elections that happened on 20 June, Pashinyan won and continued his Prime Minister position despite protests that were continuing in some cities of Armenia. The post-war crisis damaged many areas of the government, especially democracy and stability in Armenia. In 2022, the President of Armenia resigns, claiming that the constitution does not grant him enough power. There is still instability in the country, it would be good if Pashinyan maintained normal relations with the president, pursued a policy together, and ruled the country.
Barclay, L. (2021). Armenia’s Postwar Political Crisis. Democratic Erosion. https://www.democratic-erosion.com/2021/04/11/armenias-postwar-political-crisis/
Armenian President on the results of the lost war for Nagorno-Karabakh and Erdogan’s influence on Azerbaijan. (2021, October 28). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFAtGSlQkXc
Nikol Pashinyan – Prime Minister of Armenia – BBC HARDtalk. (2020, August 14). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-mzKtQbwbM
Armenia. The first reaction to the end of the Karabakh war / The war is lost. Who’s guilty? / Romanov. (2020, November 12). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyxFkF7mzQk