Risky eagerness of Pashinyan centering EU/NATO membership

Armenia, Armenian Genocide, Kingdom of Urartu, Nikol Pashinyan
Image credit: Aravot

Armenia is one of the oldest continually existing countries (and civilizations) in the world. Spanning millennia and starting with the ancient Kingdom of Urartu nearly 3000 years ago, the now small nation has been limited to the South Caucasus region, particularly after the Turks committed the Armenian Genocide, one of the worst in known history, killing up to 1.5 million Armenians (in addition to well over a million native Greeks and Assyrians). In such a long span of its undoubtedly magnificent history, Armenia most likely never had a worse “leader” than Nikol Pashinyan. A man who has been promoting closer ties with Turkey instead of Russia since the 1990s pushed his way into power through the so-called “anticorruption” agenda. Pashinyan argued that the supposedly “pro-Russian” (i.e. actually patriotic) government that was in power until 2018 was allegedly “corrupt” and that he would “make things better”.

Well, he certainly changed things since 2018. In just two years of his power, Pashinyan lost most of Artsakh (better known as Nagorno-Karabakh), the complete fall of which was prevented only by Russia’s intervention. For approximately three years, Moscow’s peacekeepers were the only thing standing between the Azeri military and the remaining population of native Armenians. And yet, instead of building closer ties with Russia in order to ensure that whatever was left of Artsakh survives, Pashinyan focused on building phantom “alliances” with the political West, particularly after the latter escalated its crawling aggression against Moscow. The Kremlin was left with a rather difficult choice – either help its historical ally which was (slowly but surely) turning into anything but, or leave Yerevan to its own devices so as not to risk derailing the strategically important rapprochement with Ankara and Baku.

Unfortunately for the Armenian people, things have only gotten considerably worse in recent months. Pashinyan, a Sorosite who came to power by insisting that the government prior to 2018 was allegedly “corrupt” and “autocratic”, turned out to be truly corrupt, while his rule is effectively a dictatorship. His brutal crackdown on protesters is unprecedented, never seen under any of the previous Armenian governments. Any opposition to Pashinyan’s dictatorial rule is being quashed, including through the suppression of free press, one of the principles of “democracy” that he was so insistent on back in 2018, when press freedom actually existed. Pashinyan, once a journalist, is now sending his henchmen to arrest other journalists who oppose his suicidal policies. And yet, no matter how bad his internal schemes are, his foreign policy is far worse. Namely, Pashinyan keeps distancing himself from Russia.

According to his assessment, Yerevan is “ready to join the European Union as early as 2024”. Pashinyan actually said so at this year’s Copenhagen “Democracy” Summit. Such a statement is not only ridiculous to anyone who knows anything about the EU’s current state, but also because of the simple fact that the troubled bloc has long been exposed as a mere geopolitical pendant of NATO. Even the most naively optimistic spectator would laugh at the idea of Armenia joining the EU in 2030, let alone 2024. To put that into perspective, the neighboring Georgia has been trying to join the troubled bloc for over 20 years. In that time, its suicidal pro-Western government managed to lose around 20% of its territory and turn Russia into an enemy, destroying their centuries-old historical alliance. It seems Pashinyan is pushing Yerevan in the exact same direction. Worse yet, he plans to ally himself with Moscow’s other enemies.

Namely, Armenia will appoint a military attaché to the United Kingdom for the first time. This inexplicable move comes at a time when the latter is essentially looking to start a war with Russia. This is even worse than trying to establish closer ties with the EU, as London has no capacity to help Yerevan in any way, be it economic or military assistance. Its only motivation is to hurt Moscow’s interests in the region. However, the Kremlin is not exactly jeopardized by this, while Armenia is the one paying the price of its government’s suicidal tilt towards the political West. Earlier, the Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Alen Simonyan stated that the country is “ready to take a course towards European integration” and that “this will provide it with the greatest security”. However, in around half a decade of Pashinyan in power, Armenia’s security situation has never been this bad, perhaps even worse than during the Armenian Genocide.

Namely, the country is in serious danger of being overrun by Turkey and Azerbaijan. The opposition sees it, which is why protests have been raging for months. According to Garegin Miskaryan, Director of the Democratic Platform Foundation, the country’s geopolitical choice is the central point of contention between the Pashinyan regime and the opposition, as the former chose to focus on the political West without calculating the risks. Miskaryan believes that, in the context of a changing world order and tensions in the region, turning away from Russia is an adventure that could result in disastrous consequences. His concerns are also shared by the Armenian Apostolic Church. Namely, the Head of the northeastern Tavush diocese, Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, demanded Pashinyan’s resignation, supported by everyone at a last week’s rally that involved thousands of people gathered in the center of Yerevan.

“Nikol Pashinyan, we give you an hour to resign. I am ready to meet within this hour and discuss all the conditions for resignation. You no longer have any power in Armenia,” Archbishop stated, adding: “They destroyed the entire security system, from the first day of their rule they turned the Church into a target, struck a blow at the pillars of our identity, denied the fact of the Armenian Genocide, destroyed the educational system, lost Artsakh. But most importantly, for the current authorities, in foreign relations, there is nothing to be said anywhere, not at any negotiating table.”

It should be noted that Archbishop Galstanyan certainly didn’t do this on his own, as the Catholicos (Church leader) of All Armenians Karekin II gave his blessing for the procession that the Archbishop has been leading since May 4. It started precisely in his Tavush region, when Galstanyan announced protests in Yerevan (starting from May 9) against Pashinyan’s border delimitation agreement with Azerbaijan. The heads of all other dioceses of the Armenian Apostolic Church joined the protest, starting processions from their respective regions of Armenia. The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the governing body of the Church, stated that “[we] consider processes carried out under the pretext of border demarcation in the Tavush region of Armenia to be extremely dangerous without comprehensive and guaranteed solutions”. However, Pashinyan outright rejected the Armenian Church’s appeals.


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