The pro-government majority in the National Assembly refused to even debate the resolution put forward by the opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem alliances amid the continuing blockage of the sole road connecting Karabakh to Armenia. Opposition lawmakers responded by walking out of the parliament hall.
The rejected document says Baku’s “criminal actions” show that Karabakh cannot be a part of Azerbaijan and self-determination of its ethnic Armenian population is the only way to ensure its security.
Hayastan’s Seyran Ohanian said the parliamentary leaders of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party strongly objected to this statement.
One of those leaders, Hayk Konjorian, did not deny this. He said the opposition motion does not match the Armenian government’s policy on the conflict with Azerbaijan.
“We believe that direct dialogue between Baku and Stepanakert would be the best mechanism for solving the Karabakh problem,” Konjorian told reporters.
The parliament approved instead a different resolution drafted by the ruling party. It too condemns Azerbaijan’s “inhuman” blockade while urging Russia to take “necessary measures” to reopen the Lachin corridor.
Some pro-government lawmakers criticized Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Karabakh for failing to stop a large group of Azerbaijanis from blocking the corridor on Monday. One of them, Vigen Khachatrian, claimed that Moscow wants to “draw Armenia into a war with Azerbaijan.”
“In my view, Russia is trying to abandon Karabakh and get Armenia from Azerbaijan in return,” said Khachatrian.
Earlier this month, the parliamentary majority voted down another opposition resolution which rejected any settlement that would restore Azerbaijani control over Nagorno-Karabakh. Opposition leaders portrayed the move as further proof of Pashinian’s readiness to recognize Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan.
Later on Wednesday, several hundred opposition supporters rallied outside the prime minister’s office in Yerevan for a demonstration organized by former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK), which controls Pativ Unem’s parliamentary group. Sarkisian also attended it. He and other HHK leaders said Pashinian’s government is also responsible for the blockade and should do more to have it lifted.
“Armenia’s [current] rulers have long forgotten Artsakh,” Sarkisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
By contrast, he seemed satisfied with the Karabakh leadership’s actions taken in response to the road closure.
“The extent of resistance depends on the Karabakh authorities because the people are prepared to fight,” said the Karabakh-born ex-president.
Sarkisian and senior members of his party also dismissed the criticism of the Russian peacekeepers voiced by Pashinian’s political allies.
“Stop blaming the Russians,” said Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK spokesman. “Had it not been for the Russian peacekeepers, there would have been no Armenians left in Artsakh.”
Meanwhile, a group of Karabakh Armenians protested outside the Russian Embassy in Yerevan. They said Moscow must reopen the Karabakh-Armenia corridor in line with the Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war.