Armenia: protests over alleged Pashinyan-Aliev meeting, rumored territory surrender
For several days now, Armenia has been caught up in persistent discussions of a proposed meeting of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev that is to take place in Moscow.
Telegram channels have even announced the date of the meeting – January 11, all despite the fact both of the sides are yet to confirm their attendance.
Armenian media is also covering the meeting extensively, reporting on how preparation for the PM’s visit to Moscow is in full motion and reporting on the specific documents that Pashinyan is to sign.
According to various reports, the documents that have allegedly already been sent to the Armenian Ministry of Justice include the following clauses:
- a corridor will be opened through Armenia, connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan,
- some territories of Armenia will be transferred to Azerbaijan,
- Armenian troops will be withdrawn from Nagorno-Karabakh.
A picket near the Ministry of Justice demanding the authorities refute information ‘about the signing of another humiliating agreement with Azerbaijan’ was held earlier today.
Amidst the ongoing unrest, Nikol Pashinyan posted on his Facebook page about the priorities of Armenia and the order of implementation of the points of the trilateral agreement on the ceasefire in Karabakh signed with Azerbaijan on the night of November 10, 2020. His post was regarded by many as a response to the spreading rumours about the surrender of the territories and a corridor through Armenia to Nakhichevan.
What the prime minister said
Nikol Pashinyan stated that the top priority for Yerevan is the full implementation of the 8th clause of the agreement – on the exchange of prisoners, hostages and detainees, as well as the bodies of the deceased. Only after that is fully set into motion would the Armenian authorities be ready to consider resuming the transport and economic communications in the region.
According to PM Pashinyan this would involve cargo transportation from Armenia to Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran via the territory of Azerbaijan, and transport communications from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan via the territory of Armenia.
“I, once again draw attention to the fact that the November 10 statement does not mention ‘corridor’, neither in relation to ‘Meghri’ nor to any other territory of Armenia.”
“The choice of communication routes from Armenia to Russia and from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan is a separate topic for negotiations, the effectiveness of which will depend heavily on the exchange of prisoners, hostages, other held persons, the bodies of the deceased, as well as the increasing of the scale and effectiveness of the search for those reported as missing”, wrote the Armenian PM.
Unrest at the Ministry of Justice
Former Deputy Minister of Justice and the head of human rights organization, Legal Way, Ruben Melikyan made an urgent appeal to organise a picket outside of the Ministry of Justice building.
He commented on Nikol Pashinyan’s post, specifically on the part of it that mentions the trilateral agreement on Karabakh which does not contain words ‘Meghri’ or ‘corridor’ going through the territory of Armenia. According to Melikyan, the same document does not say anything about the Armenian village of Shurnukh, but “the enemy had reached it too.”
The human rights activist was referring to approximately 12 houses in Shurnukh village of the Syunik region of Armenia that were transferred to Azerbaijan on January 5 in the process of redrawing the borders between the countries.
Melikyan called on the authorities to officially refute the information that on January 11th “it is planned to sign another humiliating agreement with Azerbaijan.”
As a result, Minister of Justice, Rustam Badasyan came out to the protesters and assured them that there were no “secret agreements” made with Azerbaijan:
“I reaffirm that the Ministry of Justice holds no agreements with Azerbaijan, and any speculations about it are completely false.”
Badasyan urged the public not to trust the telegram channels, as in recent years, disinformation has often been spread to cause panic among the residents of the country.