Internal political situation in the unrecognized NKR. Forecast from Yerevan: what to expect
Demanding the resignation of the NKR President
Armenia is discussing the internal political situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. A day ago the former state minister of the unrecognized republic, Ruben Vardanyan, said that the president promised to resign but did not keep his word. Deputies of the local parliament reacted to this statement. Their response statement says that there is no demand in society for the resignation of Arayik Harutyunyan, “these statements are aimed at the president himself and the presidential institution.”
According to political scientist Tigran Grigoryan, Vardanyan’s message is a reflection of recent internal political unrest:
“The internal political instability that has been going on for several months is evidence not only of the struggle for power, but also of different ideas about the way out of the situation in Artsakh.”
He believes that against the backdrop of the ongoing blockade by Azerbaijan and the deepening humanitarian crisis, “political developments can also take an unpredictable course.”
“At the beginning of the week you said you were retiring”
Ruben Vardanyan announced this live on Facebook. According to him, the president said that he did not need to be persuaded, he had already decided to leave:
“This was not the first time. Some of the 8 people who were present at that meeting did not believe your words. Others speculated, “Maybe this time he’s telling the truth.”
The former state minister did not disclose other details. He stressed that over the past week, Arayik Harutyunyan crossed “a red line in relations with the people, when the militias broke into the parliament by force.”
“I don’t know if you escorted them, you ordered or your deputies were aware and ordered to do it. In any case, this is unacceptable. You are destroying state institutions. You have no right to do this,” Vardanyan said.
Earlier, the head of the Ardarutyun (Justice) opposition faction David Galstyan said that a group of militiamen broke into the parliament. They asked “who is demanding the resignation” of Araik Harutyunyan, and stated that not a single deputy can make such a demand.
“Direct Appeals Against State Institutions”
The ruling Free Motherland faction of the parliament of the unrecognized republic responded to Ruben Vardanyan’s statements. The deputies stressed that he does not hold a state post and does not have a vote of confidence of the people. They regarded the appeal of the former state minister as populist, containing direct appeals directed against state institutions:
“What will be the political consequences and how events will develop after this resignation, in what vulnerable situation the statehood will be in such conditions, is clear to everyone. Promoting the interests of narrow groups is not in the interests of Artsakh and should be condemned. We call on all political forces and players to refrain from anti-constitutional and anti-state statements, to be correct and restrained towards the Motherland during this difficult period.”
Marcel Petrosyan, head of the United Motherland opposition faction, also stated that there is no demand in society for Harutyunyan’s resignation. According to him, this topic is “discussed deliberately, with far-reaching goals.”
What may follow the resignation of Arayik Harutyunyan
In June, the local parliament introduced an amendment to the “Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly”, which came into force on 14 July.
The amendment concerns the procedure for the election of the President by Parliament during martial law:
“Before the end of the term of office of the incumbent president, if the office of president remains vacant, not earlier than 7 days and not later than 10 days later, the National Assembly, on the recommendation of factions, elects a president who will act until the end of the term of office of the incumbent president.”
The regime of martial law is still preserved. Therefore, if the incumbent president resigns, the candidate elected by the parliament will act as head of state until the end of Arayik Harutyunyan’s term, that is, until May 2025.
According to political scientist Tigran Grigoryan, the “turbulent behind-the-scenes processes” taking place in NK have begun to manifest themselves publicly. A few days before Vardanyan’s video message, one of the telegram channels also wrote about the possible resignation of Arayik Harutyunyan.
As for the former state minister, according to the expert, in recent months he has managed to unite around himself former presidents and former high-ranking military men who are under their influence, as well as three opposition parliamentary factions.
Tigran Grigoryan believes that this faction has become one of the main players in the internal political life of the unrecognized republic. They are actively fighting for power, as is the team of Samvel Babayan, the former commander of the NK Defense Army.
“Araik Harutyunyan, whose power after the end of the war is rather shaky, has to maneuver between these forces, sometimes making concessions, and sometimes trying to show strength,” the analyst explains.
He also considers the episode when the militia burst into parliament a manifestation of strength. In his opinion, this was Harutyunyan’s pre-planned move, the purpose of which was to show all other players that he still has leverage and support.
The political scientist emphasizes that all actors have their own views on possible solutions to the crisis that has arisen here:
- Samvel Babayan and his team maintain a direct, immediate dialogue with Azerbaijan,
- Harutyunyan and his associates are in favor of negotiations with Baku with the participation of intermediaries and not on the territory of Azerbaijan,
- according to Vardanyan and his entourage, the negotiations should take place in an international format.
However, it does not say what solutions they propose to overcome the humanitarian crisis.
“The balance of power between these three main players will determine which approaches will become dominant in Artsakh,” the expert believes.
He does not exclude that Arayik Harutyunyan will have to go, including the exploitation of the Aghdam road, to overcome the humanitarian crisis. We are talking about the route through the territory of Azerbaijan, which is offered by Baku instead of the Lachin corridor connecting NK with Armenia.
“It is likely that international organizations will deliver humanitarian cargo of non-Azerbaijani origin to Nagorno-Karabakh along this route. Some transportation will also be carried out through the Lachin corridor,” Grigoryan says.
He warns that this decision may cause another internal political aggravation.
Demanding the resignation of the NKR President