In the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution, the last thing that Armenia needs is the continuation of further social disturbances. The popular uprising which brought Nikol Pashinyan to power is yet to offer its dividends to the public, which has not yet witnessed any changes in its daily life, except the euphoria generated by the revolution. If expectations are not met in a timely fashion or miss their goals, the euphoria may prove to be ephemeral.
Armenia’s domestic issues have to be viewed within the regional political context, which is disconcerting to say the least.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent victory in neighboring Turkey has ramifications far beyond that country’s borders. Following his victory, Erdogan flew to Baku immediately to fan the Pan-Turkic dreams from the Caucasus to Central Asia. That move was echoed and complemented by Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, who repeated the call for the unity of Turkic peoples. Ironically, Nazarbayev is supposed to be Armenia’s strategic ally through its membership in the Eurasian Economic Union.
All these developments resulted in increased troop concentration in Nakhichevan, where the Turkish general staff plans to execute seven consecutive military exercises in the near future.
This situation is further aggravated by the intensifying suspicions of Moscow about the political intentions of the new government in Armenia. A Russian delegation has already visited Azerbaijan and bashed Armenia for its position in the Karabakh issue. The political tension is already in the air, reminiscent of the days in the 1990s when President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s government advocated a shift in its policy from Moscow to Ankara and Russia responded in kind by sending arms and strategic support to Azerbaijan, which almost occupied two-thirds of Karabakh, until the Armenian side came to its senses, switched back its policy, recovered that territory last and signed the ceasefire agreement on May 12, 1994.
One wonders who is paying attention in Armenia to this egregious situation when demonstrators are out in the streets calling for a new Catholicos in the new Armenia. Their numbers and their calls could be easily ignored had it not been the government’s equivocal position vis-à-vis these disturbances.