YEREVAN – With the ceasefire which ended the bloody Second Artsakh War marking its first anniversary on November 9, Armenians are adjusting to a new reality. The past twelve months have witnessed political turbulence, stemming from the fallout of Armenia’s military defeat against Azerbaijan, as well as the economic challenges triggered by the massive disruptions suffered by the global supply train in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Armenia has managed to weather the first of this three-pronged crisis, through an election which was lauded as “free and fair” by international observers. The country’s economy also appears to be recovering from the shock caused by both the pandemic and the war at an impressive rate. The Armenian economy is now expected to grow at a rate of 7 percent in 2021, a much more optimistic forecast than that which the World Bank had originally outlined last year. These figures come against the background of increased employment, a slew of high-profile foreign investments and a boost to the export market. A rise in remittances has also helped bolster the country’s economic performance.
But for many of the families still mourning the death of their sons, brothers, fathers (and in some cases, daughters), and for the hundreds of wounded veterans, adapting to the new post-bellum situation.
“My son had been exempted from the Army, but when the war started, he couldn’t stay home,” Anahit, a grieving mother, tells the Mirror-Spectator. “His commander told me that he saved his entire platoon when he covered their retreat near Hadrut with his heavy machine gun.”
She visits her son’s grave at the Yerablur Military Cemetery every day, where she has already struck a sort of friendship through grief with Lilit, another mother whose only son lies buried next to hers.
Along the newly established frontier with Azerbaijan – the result of a ceasefire condition to cede the 7 provinces surrounding the soviet-era borders of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast to Baku – villagers now find themselves within eyesight of Azerbaijani border posts, an uncomfortable feeling for many.