What does Pahinyan’s election victory mean for Armenia? | European News
Thousands of people gathered on Republic Square in Yerevan on Monday night to listen to Nikol Pashinyan’s victory speech, after he won a decisive election victory despite public anger.
He told the flag-waving crowd that his re-election meant that the crisis was now over, referring to protests against him after defeating Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh War last year, which triggered a quick poll on Sunday.
He said that the government can once again “work as usual” to build a new Armenia.
After seeing the exchange of threats and insults in the divided election campaign, he also called for unity to make some people worry that confrontation would spread to the streets.
Months of protests against his handling of the war led to an internal political crisis, and Prime Minister Pashinyan stepped down in April.
Since the vote, rallies for and against Pashinyan have been held, but there have been no reports of violence or arrests.
The League of Armenia ranked second with 21% of the votes, led by former President Robert Kocharyan, has announced plans to challenge the election results.
During his tenure, Kocharian was accused of manipulating election results, leading to protests in 2008 and severe police suppression, resulting in 10 deaths.
However, election observers did not express concerns about the legitimacy of the vote — this was the second free and fair election in Armenia after the “Velvet Revolution” in 2018.
Experts say that results are the key to the country’s future, and the way Armenian society manages post-war political development may determine the success or failure of its democracy.
Some people said this could also mean a softening of relations with rivals Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Many people tout the vote, which involves 26 parties and groups, but it essentially becomes a two-horse race because it provides a choice between security and democracy, and democracy is among the best.
Pashinyan came to power after leading the 2018 revolution, promising to carry out reforms such as the anti-corruption movement, while Kocharyan represented the overthrown old guard who promoted the expansion of the armed forces.
“The campaign involves false information, false narratives, and the manipulation of people’s fears by all parties,” said Sossi Tatikyan, Armenian foreign and security policy adviser. “Many people voted for Pashinyan because they are worried about the return of the previous government, which is related to corruption and restrictions on political and civil rights.”
However, Tatikyan believes that the vote shows that the Armenians are “determined” to resolve national defense, security, and economic issues without sacrificing democracy and human rights.
However, not everyone agrees.
According to reports, protests took place in Stepanakert, the main city of Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday.
The area is an internationally recognized Azerbaijani territory, even if it is Armenia, it is managed by ethnic Armenians who want to leave or join Armenia.
Several wars have been fought for it, including last year’s conflict. More than 6,000 people have died on both sides.
After the Armenian leader Arayk Harutyunyan of Nagorno-Karabakh congratulated Pashinyan on his victory, protesters in the area demanded his resignation.
Armenia’s Soviet era dominance over Russia also followed the vote closely, and they soon congratulated the “convincing” victory and the victory of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Last year, Turkey supported Azerbaijan during the six-week war, providing cutting-edge weapons such as drones, which helped influence the fighting in their favor.
Turkey and Armenia have no formal relations, and the border between the two countries has been closed since 1993. The relationship between Baku and Yerevan is similar.
However, Pashinyan’s victory may mean a thaw; he is the leader of signing an agreement brokered by Russia to end the conflict and return large tracts of territory captured in the previous war to Azerbaijan.
During his visit to Baku last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that a regional platform involving six countries-Turkey, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia-will be established to promote Integration of the area.
“We are willing to make all kinds of sacrifices. So is Mr. Putin. With the measures taken in this regard, the region will become a zone of peace,” he said.
“We hope Armenia can hold this hand in solidarity and take this opportunity to shape a common future together.”
In May, Pashinyan said: “Turkey is our enemy, but this hostility must be controlled”, implying that it may deviate from years of hard-line hostility.
Vicken Cheterian, a political analyst who teaches international relations at Webster University in Geneva, said that there may be changes in the status quo within the next year.
“After this election, I think there will be at least some more serious attempts to see how the post-war and post-election relationship between Armenia and its neighbors will form,” he said.
“We will see whether there will be a serious normalization process, or whether borders, communications and diplomatic exchanges will be opened, or whether we will return to the same pattern.”
However, when it comes to Russia, experts predict that there will be no major changes in policy, but Moscow’s influence may continue to grow.
For Pashinyan, post-conflict increases in dependence on Russia will be difficult to manage, especially because it led to the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire and its 2,000 peacekeepers are still stationed there.
“The election results pose little challenge to Armenia’s relations with Russia. Compared with Armenia, Russia enjoys a structural advantage before and after the Velvet Revolution,” said Anna Ohan, a non-resident senior scholar of the Carnegie Russia and Eurasian Project. Said Anna Ohanyan.
“After the war, Russia now has more cards in Biarmenia, but Armenia’s continued reliance on participatory politics has allowed it to gain influence in the Kremlin. With this election result, Pashinyan will continue to cooperate with the Kremlin in execution. Trilateral Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement.”