In a rare joint statement, Armenia’s main pro-government and opposition political parties expressed support for the Armenian military on Tuesday, praising its actions during last week’s deadly fighting with Azerbaijani forces.
The six parties represented in the National Assembly also urged Russia to stop selling large quantities of offensive weapons to “military adventure-prone Azerbaijan.” They seemed to indirectly link the Russian arms supplies with the latest upsurge in ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
Echoing official Yerevan’s stance, their statement accused Azerbaijan of provoking the escalation along the Karabakh “line of contact” and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border that left at least 20 soldiers from both sides dead.
“The soldiers standing at the borders of our homeland have proved that with their constantly adequate response they will not allow Azerbaijan to gain a military advantage,” it said. “During those provocations the Armenian soldiers demonstrated their strong skills and unlimited commitment to the cause of homeland defense.”
“The Armenian people and the Armenian soldiers have demonstrated that they are prepared to ensure the security of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” added the statement released by the parliamentary factions of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) and the five other groups, which are in opposition to President Serzh Sarkisian.
Two of those opposition parties, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage), do not recognize Sarkisian’s legitimacy and seek his removal from power. Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s parliamentary leader, said the “Azerbaijani military threat” prompted them to rally around the Armenian army.
“It is only natural that there is political struggle [in Armenia,]” said Zurabian. “The external enemy attacking our borders may misunderstand it and conclude that it can take advantage of that struggle. I’m sure that this was part of Azerbaijan’s calculations that preceded the attacks.”
Zurabian also stressed, “Unity on this issue does not influence our position on [other] key issues which we have repeatedly articulated. We stand by all of our criticisms of the Armenian authorities.”
Ruben Hakobian, the leader of Zharangutyun’s parliamentary faction, made the same point. “Our internal political positions remain unchanged,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The multi-partisan statement was made public following a meeting of the faction leaders which saw, according to Hakobian and other participants, a heated discussion on the document’s content. They declined to give details of that debate.
The party leaders discussed the situation around Karabakh and on the Azerbaijani border with Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian on Monday. Ohanian reportedly briefed them on Armenian military operations that were conducted there in the past several days.
According to Hakobian, groups of Armenian lawmakers will visit the frontlines in the coming days.