“Vardanyan was not fired at Aliyev's request”: opinion from Yerevan
Dismissal of Ruben Vardanyan
State Minister of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Ruben Vardanyan has been relieved of his post, President Arayik Harutyunyan announcing his decision at a government meeting. The post of State Minister will be filled by Chief Prosecutor Gurgen Nersisyan.
The possibility of Vardanyan’s dismissal has been actively discussed over the past couple of weeks. Rumors and comments intensified after the Munich meeting between the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia and the discussion at the Munich Security Conference.
Ilham Aliyev said again that Azerbaijan is ready to talk with “representatives of the Armenian community who were born in Karabakh and lived here all their lives, and not with the person who was exported from Russia,” referring to Vardanyan, who renounced Russian citizenship and moved to live in NK.
Political scientist Suren Surenyants sees this not as Aliyev’s will, but as a consequence of internal political processes in Nagorno-Karabakh. In his opinion, even if the decision to dismiss Vardanyan had already been made, “it was necessary to postpone it for at least one or two months.”
Ruben Vardanyan summed up the results of the hundred days of his activity as State Minister a few days ago. Vardanyan and his team responded to rumors of a possible resignation that it wouldn’t be his choice. His adviser Mesrop Arakelyan stated that even if Vardanyan were released from his post, he will continue to live and work in Nagorno-Karabakh.
This issue has been actively discussed in recent weeks by the NK parliamentary opposition. According to the oppositionists, Vardanyan’s resignation will mean that “the demands of Azerbaijan are being fulfilled, under pressure from the Armenian authorities and without taking into account the interests of Artsakh.”
Just now, by the time the article was published, a message was received from NK that Vardanyan made a statement that he did not intend to leave, and would live and work in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Harutyunyan – about joint work, but not about the reasons for dismissal
In a speech, Arayik Harutyunyan said that he appreciates Vardanyan’s efforts to raise awareness in the international community about Nagorno-Karabakh and to solve many internal problems during the blockade. According to him, he and Vardanyan daily followed the events taking place in NK and the developments around it, exchanging ideas on how to get out of the current situation.
“I am grateful to Mr. Vardanyan for always trying to share the responsibility with me as much as possible both in friendly and partnership relations, and not trying to shift it onto me, referring to constitutional norms,” he said.
Harutyunyan also said that Vardanyan approached the president’s personal responsibility for the situation and all future problems in Artsakh with “awareness and understanding.”
However, he did not give reasons for the dismissal, and did not say whether this issue was discussed with Vardanyan.
In October last year, Harutyunyan himself offered the businessman, who had renounced Russian citizenship, to take the post of state minister. It was claimed in Azerbaijan that Ruben Vardanyan moved to Nagorno-Karabakh on the orders of Moscow. Russia has repeatedly denied this claim.
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According to political scientist Suren Surenyants, the main factor behind Vardanyan’s dismissal was not Aliyev’s demand, but internal political processes in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“President Harutyunyan is an official without a core, who, under some influence, takes different steps, transforms his policy into different configurations. So let him say now why he brought Vardanyan to Artsakh and why he fired him,” Surenyants told JAMnews.
Surenyants says that these events have been brewing for a long time and the obvious contradictions in the elite have been going on for at least two months.
“Not playing a significant role in all this, Azerbaijan will still receive dividends in terms of PR and propaganda. The Azerbaijani propaganda machine will present the dismissal of Vardanyan as a step towards the reintegration of Artsakh,” Surenyants said.
According to the information Surenyants has, Moscow has nothing to do with either Vardanyan’s appointment or dismissal.
Commenting on the notion that Vardanyan’s presence complicated the resolution process, he says:
“In this case, we are not talking about a resolution, but about asymmetric relations between Baku and Stepanakert, attempts to annex Artsakh to Azerbaijan.”
When asked how likely it is that Vardanyan’s resignation is connected with Armenia’s position not to provide Azerbaijan with the so-called “Zangezur corridor” under any circumstances, Surenyants replied:
“This is an absurd statement by an MP from the ruling faction, and there is a dangerous logic in it. If the authorities believe that Azerbaijan will stop demanding the Zangezur Corridor with the resignation of one person, then let Pashinyan also resign so the enclaves do not demand it, ”he said.
One of the deputies of the ruling Civil Contract faction in Armenia told reporters that they are in favor of Vardanyan’s departure.
“Let’s assume that Aliyev demands: “Give me the Zangezur corridor so that I open the Lachin one.” What’s better? Give “Zangezur Corridor” or tell Ruben Vardanyan: “Dear Ruben, go back where you came from.” Of course, if the whole problem is that Ruben is not there, then the Karabakh authorities should tell Ruben: “Leave this position,” Gagik Melkonyan said.
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The dismissal of Ruben Vardanyan