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Ruling Party, Opposition Disagree On Karabakh War Probe


Armenia - A woman visits one of the graves of Armenian soldiers killed in the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh and buried in the Yerablur Military Pantheon in Yerevan, September 27, 2021.

Parliamentary leaders of the ruling Civil Contract party and Armenia’s two leading opposition blocs have reached no agreement so far on practical modalities of investigating the causes and outcome of last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

They both have pledged to launch parliamentary inquiries focusing on the Armenian government’s handling of the six-week war that resulted in sweeping Armenian territorial losses and at least 3,900 deaths.

Civil Contract’s Andranik Kocharian signaled the impending creation of a relevant parliament commission as the newly elected National Assembly began its work in early August. The commission has still not been set up.

Kocharian, who heads the parliament’s standing committee on defense and national security, on Tuesday declined to give any reasons for the apparent delay. “We are moving forward,” he said vaguely.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian stated later in August that the ad hoc commission should comprise not only representatives of the parliamentary forces but also political parties that failed to win any seats in the current legislature as well as representatives of the families of Armenian soldiers killed or missing in action. He held a series of meetings with the leaders of several such parties this month.

The parliament statutes stipulate that only serving lawmakers can join such commissions. Reports in the Armenian press have said that the ruling party wants to amend the statutes accordingly.

Kocharian said that the authorities are now discussing “legal issues” relating to the work of the commission. He did not elaborate.

The idea of expanding the commission is rejected by the main opposition Hayastan alliance. One of its senior lawmakers, Artsvik Minasian, claimed on Tuesday that Pashinian simply wants to involve more of his political allies in the planned parliamentary inquiry to ensure that it covers up his mishandling of the war.

“They have said ... that the commission should be expanded, including through the involvement of representatives of extra-parliamentary political forces sympathetic to the authorities,” Minasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“It is evident that they are not interested in solving apparent crimes committed on their watch. They are interested in the opposite: to cover up, to withhold and not to solve,” he said.

Hayastan and other major opposition groups blame Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the war with Azerbaijan.

Minasian said that Hayastan will also press for the creation of a separate “fact-finding” body tasked with looking into the causes of the defeat. He said it should consist of an equal number of pro-government and opposition members as well as independent experts.

Another opposition party, Bright Armenia, already called for the creation of such body early this year. Pashinian’s political team rejected the idea.

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