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Igor Korotchenko: If the revanchist opposition wins power in Armenia, this country should expect even more severe losses

12 June 2024

Igor Korotchenko, the General Director of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, in his interview to Moscow Ц Baku talked about the future of Armenia and of the peace process between Yerevan and Baku in case the opposition headed by Bagrat Gasltanyan comes to power.

Ц Armenian opposition today again tried to push the resignation of the incumbent Prime Minister in the national parliament. If we imagine the opposition headed by Archbishop Bagrat Gasltanyan after all comes into power, what will Armenia be up to and what will happen to the peace process between Yerevan and Baku?

Ц Let me start with saying that Nikol Pashinyan, the incumbent Prime Minister of Armenia, has been rather efficient so far in mitigating all the attempts of his displacement. This is what he is doing right now. So let us explore the scenario, which is probable, but highly unlikely: the opposition headed by Bagrat Galstanyan wins power. In such case, PashinyanТs resignation would mean that this person dressed in a cassock will be performing in the capacity of the Prime Minister, as he wishes to do. Hence, he will become the leader of the country. It is clear that in such case certain actors, including those from the Karabakh clan, who are supporting him today, will be counting on being appointed to some positions in his government.

The potential coming of opposition into power absolutely explicitly will mean termination of the peace process, because Bagrat Galstanyan and his allies are saying that right now Armenia is being betrayed and its territories are being surrendered, they are frightening the public with the words that «nothing will be left of Armenia», that Pashinyan is serving to Azerbaijan calling him a Turk. Even though it is nothing but returning to Azerbaijan its former territories and just restoring justice. But the opposition does not care about that. That is why is they come to power, the process of frontiers delimitation and demarcation will also be terminated. We all saw Bagrat Galstanyan making numerous boorish statements concerning the leaders of Azerbaijan.

It is obvious: Galstanyan is impossible to negotiate with. He is the protйgй of the Armenian apostolic church, as well as of global Armenian elites and expat communities. Bagrat Galstanyan is a symbol of Armenian revenge against Azerbaijan.

But in reality, Armenia is not capable of achieving the revenge by military means. If Armenia intends to launch a series of military provocations, as it used to do before (and we cannot exclude this), the situation «on the ground» between Azerbaijan and Armenia again will come into a violent phase of the conflict. And it will be Armenia who will be initiating it, because Azerbaijan does not need any conflicts Ц it reinstated its sovereignty. As for Armenia, it does have certain historical territorial claims against Azerbaijan. And against Turkey. The opposition is trying to keep this idea up to date claiming potential return to Karabakh, talking about losing it and thus instigating the Armenian public to certain resentment and grievance. Yesterday at the rally the opposition projected Ararat Ц the Haykakan Par mountains Ц on the government building.

The opposition is a source of aggression. But such aggression will lead to full-scale military operations. And, in such case, I can easily see Armenia losing Zangezur. No one will be fighting for Armenia. I think that Macron despite all his promises, just like the European Union and the USA, will not do any serious things for Yerevan, they will be just «undertaking political efforts». The EU Mission in Armenia will scatter away as soon as Armenia with the revanchist opposition in power engineers a military conflict. They will try to evacuate from the Armenian territory as soon as possible. Armenia will lose part of its territory.

The opposition headed by Bagrat Galstanyan represents those, who do not think about the dreadful consequences of them coming into power. In their lust for power, they live in their own world and do not think straight. Who will be fighting for Armenia? Russia will not be doing that. Armenia has frozen its participation in the CSTO, is not paying the membership fees, and is drifting towards the West and Ukrainian authorities.

Then, let the revanchist opposition crowd, who rally every day because they have nothing else to do, go to the front and fight as volunteers. If only the revanchist opposition comes to power, Armenia is to expect a new wreckage, new military and political defeat and capitulation associated with losing part of its territory. The aggressor always pays with its own territories.

Ц The archbishop is not represented in the parliament. How does he plan to bring the opposition to power?

Ц They believe they will be able to come to power using the same scenario as Pashinyan in 2018. They are counting on the resignation of the incumbent. Then they will organize new elections. What it will look like when the clergy group seizes power?! What model of governance Galstanyan will be building? Will he become the supreme spiritual leader, «the underboss»?

He is forcibly forming the impression among the public about the alleged return of the lost territories. Does he mean he will start another war for Karabakh? But Karabakh is the commonly recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Will he start a warfare at the delimited sectors of the frontier? It will mean a big war.

After the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijan has upgraded its armed forces significantly and continues to do so. There are strong figures in the Azerbaijanian army today: for example, the ex-commander of special operating forces (they took over Shusha), who currently is the Deputy Defence Minister Ц the land forces commander. Some other people, who really were fighting at the front and showed progress, got promoted. And who will lead the Armenian army? Who will be fighting? The opposition in the parliament? These people can only throw bottles on their opponents. Or maybe Armenian lobbyists, who are stalling with saliva and bile, will go fighting?

For Armenia as the nation the most healthy and realistic approach, especially in the context of permanent turbulence, is to calm down, to undertake constructive action to achieve peace with Azerbaijan, to focus on economic development. Pashinyan is doing right that Ц may be not very well or too slow, but this is what he is doing. And the opposition is again thinking in the categories of «Great Armenia», of Miatsum. I would call it a diagnosis. Because there are realities «on the ground» and in the world. You can «huff and puff», but what is the result? Armenia is a small mountainous country without resources. It was offered peace. And the opposition instead of moving forward and developing the country wants to throw it backwards, to send simple folks to fight and to ruin the country completely.

No one will be pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for Armenia. Neither France, nor the United States, nor those NATO officials, who are involved in reforming the Armenian army today. The opposition is out of synch with reality. But you can have your dreams, you know.

Ц What is RussiaТs vision of the situation with the opposition?

Ц To put it softly, the opposition-related problems of Armenia are not the first, nor the second or even the third priority for Russia. The RF has many more important and massive objectives. The special military operation is the first one. The second one is interaction with the countries of the Global South with the purpose of creating powerful anti-West coalition, assuring the economic stability, etc. That is why Russian experts are just monitoring the situation in Armenia, looking what will come out of it? But nothing comes out of the opposition action. A sheep is not a creature of the air.

If only the opposition had the necessary capabilities and was supported by the respective attitude of the Armenian public at large, a person in a purple cassock with a cross would be sitting in the Prime MinisterТs chair right now. And he is not there, it means he will never get there. He only will ramble through the streets of Yerevan and other cities instigating the crowd. But the result will be zero. There were many attempts to overthrow Pashinyan, but so far they have not been leading anywhere. I am speaking solely based on the facts.

Pashinyan is a legitimate head of the state, you need to talk to him, to discuss various problems. Soft power is needed, but not what we are seeing today in Russian media, where we keep hearing invectives by phony characters. We need to work with the political community of Armenia, to work with Armenian elites, and not with the ones trying to collide Russia with Azerbaijan for the sake of Armenia. We will not be able to make them think and speak the other way. This will not lead us to any good result. They are just like the Armenian opposition. We have the risk of running into the same trap like with Ukraine and Moldova.

Ц Last week, the President of Azerbaijan stated that there will be no peace treaty with Yerevan unless they remove the territorial claims against Azerbaijan from the Armenian Constitution. Both Baku and Yerevan claim that peace treaty can be signed by November, but we hear nothing from Armenia about amending the Constitution. What does this mean?

Ц The point is that Armenian Constitution includes direct references to the documents containing territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Suppose Pashinyan signs the peace treaty with Azerbaijan, and then some revanchist forces win power in Armenia and nullify everything based on the decision of the Constitutional court of Armenia, and then the come-back of the big war will become possible again. The objective of the leaders of Azerbaijan is not to leave any legitimate opportunities for Armenia to lodge territorial claims again. And this is a quite fair condition. I think, Armenians understand it as well.

We need to be clear: Azerbaijan currently has no territorial claims against Armenia. And Armenia does. Pashinyan will not succeed in amending the Constitution secretly. There has to be a referendum.

Both favorable and negative scenarios are equally possible. It looks like the Prime Minister does not want to talk about that due to the high level of turbulence. Even though until recently he stated the need for amending the Constitution. But now he is keeping low profile on that.

If Armenia wants to go along the path to peace, they need to understand: Constitution needs to be changed. I think, Pashinyan understands that. But the political situation may be developing against any logic. The main objective of the incumbent Prime Minister is to stay in power. Neither Pashinyan, nor his team want to resign.

On the issue of amending the Constitution I am based on two factors: in the most critical moments Pashinyan was able to "thread the needle". Noone was expecting this. How exactly did he manage to do that Ц this should be the topic of a separate political analysis. He stayed in power. It means, there is certain potential with him.

He understands: Armenia needs to reject popular myths and to move towards reality. He calls for accepting real Armenia based on the recognized frontiers and realities, and to move forward. And the counteracting opposition says: no, we need to be «great again», we need to lay claims to our neighbors, we need to return what we lost, etc. So, the Armenian people are facing a rather simple choice Ц between peace and comfortable life, on one hand, and lack of any economic and social development. 

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Igor Korotchenko: If the revanchist opposition wins power in Armenia, this country should expect even more severe losses

12 June 2024

Igor Korotchenko, the General Director of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, in his interview to Moscow Ц Baku talked about the future of Armenia and of the peace process between Yerevan and Baku in case the opposition headed by Bagrat Gasltanyan comes to power.

Ц Armenian opposition today again tried to push the resignation of the incumbent Prime Minister in the national parliament. If we imagine the opposition headed by Archbishop Bagrat Gasltanyan after all comes into power, what will Armenia be up to and what will happen to the peace process between Yerevan and Baku?

Ц Let me start with saying that Nikol Pashinyan, the incumbent Prime Minister of Armenia, has been rather efficient so far in mitigating all the attempts of his displacement. This is what he is doing right now. So let us explore the scenario, which is probable, but highly unlikely: the opposition headed by Bagrat Galstanyan wins power. In such case, PashinyanТs resignation would mean that this person dressed in a cassock will be performing in the capacity of the Prime Minister, as he wishes to do. Hence, he will become the leader of the country. It is clear that in such case certain actors, including those from the Karabakh clan, who are supporting him today, will be counting on being appointed to some positions in his government.

The potential coming of opposition into power absolutely explicitly will mean termination of the peace process, because Bagrat Galstanyan and his allies are saying that right now Armenia is being betrayed and its territories are being surrendered, they are frightening the public with the words that «nothing will be left of Armenia», that Pashinyan is serving to Azerbaijan calling him a Turk. Even though it is nothing but returning to Azerbaijan its former territories and just restoring justice. But the opposition does not care about that. That is why is they come to power, the process of frontiers delimitation and demarcation will also be terminated. We all saw Bagrat Galstanyan making numerous boorish statements concerning the leaders of Azerbaijan.

It is obvious: Galstanyan is impossible to negotiate with. He is the protйgй of the Armenian apostolic church, as well as of global Armenian elites and expat communities. Bagrat Galstanyan is a symbol of Armenian revenge against Azerbaijan.

But in reality, Armenia is not capable of achieving the revenge by military means. If Armenia intends to launch a series of military provocations, as it used to do before (and we cannot exclude this), the situation «on the ground» between Azerbaijan and Armenia again will come into a violent phase of the conflict. And it will be Armenia who will be initiating it, because Azerbaijan does not need any conflicts Ц it reinstated its sovereignty. As for Armenia, it does have certain historical territorial claims against Azerbaijan. And against Turkey. The opposition is trying to keep this idea up to date claiming potential return to Karabakh, talking about losing it and thus instigating the Armenian public to certain resentment and grievance. Yesterday at the rally the opposition projected Ararat Ц the Haykakan Par mountains Ц on the government building.

The opposition is a source of aggression. But such aggression will lead to full-scale military operations. And, in such case, I can easily see Armenia losing Zangezur. No one will be fighting for Armenia. I think that Macron despite all his promises, just like the European Union and the USA, will not do any serious things for Yerevan, they will be just «undertaking political efforts». The EU Mission in Armenia will scatter away as soon as Armenia with the revanchist opposition in power engineers a military conflict. They will try to evacuate from the Armenian territory as soon as possible. Armenia will lose part of its territory.

The opposition headed by Bagrat Galstanyan represents those, who do not think about the dreadful consequences of them coming into power. In their lust for power, they live in their own world and do not think straight. Who will be fighting for Armenia? Russia will not be doing that. Armenia has frozen its participation in the CSTO, is not paying the membership fees, and is drifting towards the West and Ukrainian authorities.

Then, let the revanchist opposition crowd, who rally every day because they have nothing else to do, go to the front and fight as volunteers. If only the revanchist opposition comes to power, Armenia is to expect a new wreckage, new military and political defeat and capitulation associated with losing part of its territory. The aggressor always pays with its own territories.

Ц The archbishop is not represented in the parliament. How does he plan to bring the opposition to power?

Ц They believe they will be able to come to power using the same scenario as Pashinyan in 2018. They are counting on the resignation of the incumbent. Then they will organize new elections. What it will look like when the clergy group seizes power?! What model of governance Galstanyan will be building? Will he become the supreme spiritual leader, «the underboss»?

He is forcibly forming the impression among the public about the alleged return of the lost territories. Does he mean he will start another war for Karabakh? But Karabakh is the commonly recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Will he start a warfare at the delimited sectors of the frontier? It will mean a big war.

After the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijan has upgraded its armed forces significantly and continues to do so. There are strong figures in the Azerbaijanian army today: for example, the ex-commander of special operating forces (they took over Shusha), who currently is the Deputy Defence Minister Ц the land forces commander. Some other people, who really were fighting at the front and showed progress, got promoted. And who will lead the Armenian army? Who will be fighting? The opposition in the parliament? These people can only throw bottles on their opponents. Or maybe Armenian lobbyists, who are stalling with saliva and bile, will go fighting?

For Armenia as the nation the most healthy and realistic approach, especially in the context of permanent turbulence, is to calm down, to undertake constructive action to achieve peace with Azerbaijan, to focus on economic development. Pashinyan is doing right that Ц may be not very well or too slow, but this is what he is doing. And the opposition is again thinking in the categories of «Great Armenia», of Miatsum. I would call it a diagnosis. Because there are realities «on the ground» and in the world. You can «huff and puff», but what is the result? Armenia is a small mountainous country without resources. It was offered peace. And the opposition instead of moving forward and developing the country wants to throw it backwards, to send simple folks to fight and to ruin the country completely.

No one will be pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for Armenia. Neither France, nor the United States, nor those NATO officials, who are involved in reforming the Armenian army today. The opposition is out of synch with reality. But you can have your dreams, you know.

Ц What is RussiaТs vision of the situation with the opposition?

Ц To put it softly, the opposition-related problems of Armenia are not the first, nor the second or even the third priority for Russia. The RF has many more important and massive objectives. The special military operation is the first one. The second one is interaction with the countries of the Global South with the purpose of creating powerful anti-West coalition, assuring the economic stability, etc. That is why Russian experts are just monitoring the situation in Armenia, looking what will come out of it? But nothing comes out of the opposition action. A sheep is not a creature of the air.

If only the opposition had the necessary capabilities and was supported by the respective attitude of the Armenian public at large, a person in a purple cassock with a cross would be sitting in the Prime MinisterТs chair right now. And he is not there, it means he will never get there. He only will ramble through the streets of Yerevan and other cities instigating the crowd. But the result will be zero. There were many attempts to overthrow Pashinyan, but so far they have not been leading anywhere. I am speaking solely based on the facts.

Pashinyan is a legitimate head of the state, you need to talk to him, to discuss various problems. Soft power is needed, but not what we are seeing today in Russian media, where we keep hearing invectives by phony characters. We need to work with the political community of Armenia, to work with Armenian elites, and not with the ones trying to collide Russia with Azerbaijan for the sake of Armenia. We will not be able to make them think and speak the other way. This will not lead us to any good result. They are just like the Armenian opposition. We have the risk of running into the same trap like with Ukraine and Moldova.

Ц Last week, the President of Azerbaijan stated that there will be no peace treaty with Yerevan unless they remove the territorial claims against Azerbaijan from the Armenian Constitution. Both Baku and Yerevan claim that peace treaty can be signed by November, but we hear nothing from Armenia about amending the Constitution. What does this mean?

Ц The point is that Armenian Constitution includes direct references to the documents containing territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Suppose Pashinyan signs the peace treaty with Azerbaijan, and then some revanchist forces win power in Armenia and nullify everything based on the decision of the Constitutional court of Armenia, and then the come-back of the big war will become possible again. The objective of the leaders of Azerbaijan is not to leave any legitimate opportunities for Armenia to lodge territorial claims again. And this is a quite fair condition. I think, Armenians understand it as well.

We need to be clear: Azerbaijan currently has no territorial claims against Armenia. And Armenia does. Pashinyan will not succeed in amending the Constitution secretly. There has to be a referendum.

Both favorable and negative scenarios are equally possible. It looks like the Prime Minister does not want to talk about that due to the high level of turbulence. Even though until recently he stated the need for amending the Constitution. But now he is keeping low profile on that.

If Armenia wants to go along the path to peace, they need to understand: Constitution needs to be changed. I think, Pashinyan understands that. But the political situation may be developing against any logic. The main objective of the incumbent Prime Minister is to stay in power. Neither Pashinyan, nor his team want to resign.

On the issue of amending the Constitution I am based on two factors: in the most critical moments Pashinyan was able to "thread the needle". Noone was expecting this. How exactly did he manage to do that Ц this should be the topic of a separate political analysis. He stayed in power. It means, there is certain potential with him.

He understands: Armenia needs to reject popular myths and to move towards reality. He calls for accepting real Armenia based on the recognized frontiers and realities, and to move forward. And the counteracting opposition says: no, we need to be «great again», we need to lay claims to our neighbors, we need to return what we lost, etc. So, the Armenian people are facing a rather simple choice Ц between peace and comfortable life, on one hand, and lack of any economic and social development.