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Armenian Opposition Leader Calls For Change Of Government To End ‘Defeatist Policies’


Head of the opposition Hayastan faction in parliament Seyran Ohanian

Armenia needs a new government and a new leader negotiating with Azerbaijan to end the current “defeatist policies,” an opposition leader said on Thursday.

Seyran Ohanian, the head of the largest opposition Hayastan faction in the Armenian parliament, implied that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his government are not in a position “to restrain the bellicose rhetoric” of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev after Armenia under their leadership suffered a defeat in the 2020 war against Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ohanian, who served as Armenia’s defense minister under the previous government in 2008-2016, did not elaborate as to what policies a new possible government would adopt or how exactly it could change the situation.

Ohanian was reacting to the recent exchange of tirades between Aliyev and Pashinian.

On Tuesday, the Azerbaijani leader accused Armenia of failing to live up to its commitments under the Russia-brokered ceasefire of 2020 that he insisted called for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and a land corridor to Azerbaijan to access its western exclave of Nakhichevan.

The Armenian premier denied any violation of the terms of the agreement and, for his part, accused Aliyev of not honoring agreements with Armenia, including on transport links in the region. He also charged that Azerbaijan is advancing a narrative about the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh, describing it as a prelude to a “genocide” against the region’s ethnic Armenian population.

“By accusing Armenia of not fulfilling its obligations Aliyev is trying to create fictitious grounds for closing the Lachin corridor, encircling the Karabakh Armenians and committing genocide,” Pashinian said, referring to a five-kilometer-wide strip of land controlled by Russian peacekeepers through which the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia lies.

In a statement on Friday Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described Pashinian’s statements about Baku’s plans to close the Lachin corridor as “an attempt to deliberately escalate tensions in the region” and accused the Armenian side of “using that road for illegal military activities.”

Commenting on Pashinian’s reaction to Aliyev’s statements, Ohanian said that “it is not new that Azerbaijan grossly violates all written agreements.”

The oppositionist said that “Baku’s aggressive policies prove that the Aliyev regime is not ready for peace.”

“Is it just now that the country’s head sees that all the norms and agreements that were made both in the joint statement and in various verbal agreements are not being kept? Of course, not. And all this should have been done in time,” Ohanian said.

In his remarks yesterday Pashinian also referred to Nagorno-Karabakh’s defense army as to “a serious obstacle to the implementation of Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy.”

In this regard, Ohanian said: “Pashinian only today has realized this. If he had done it from the beginning, he would not have signed [the ceasefire] on November 9, 2020 instead of another country, I mean Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh].”

The opposition Hayastan Alliance, which is led by former President Robert Kocharian, who does not sit in parliament, has been among Armenia’s political groups calling for the resignation of Pashinian and his government in recent months.

Leading members of the alliance were actively engaged in anti-government street protests in Yerevan and elsewhere in Armenia that lasted for weeks in May and June this year. The protests in which from several hundred to several thousand people took part every day eventually fizzled out, with Pashinian allies suggesting that the failure of the anti-government campaign showed the lack of popular support for the opposition’s agenda of changing the government in Armenia.

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