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Armenian protesters vow to oust prime minister – POLITICO


“Pashinyan needs to go,” one middle-aged demonstrator told POLITICO, saying he preferred not to give his name as he feared reprisals. Asked who should take his place as prime minister, or how another leader would avoid conflict with Azerbaijan while still keeping the four villages, the demonstrator said: “Someone else will have a better plan.”

Pashinyan has hailed the surrender of the four villages as a major step toward normalizing relations with Azerbaijan — the two countries have fought regularly since the fall of the USSR in 1991 — and respecting its international legal obligations. “We are reproducing the [legal] borders … at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union,” he said last week.

Earlier the same day, officials in Yerevan and Moscow confirmed that Russian border guards — stationed along Armenia’s frontiers with Azerbaijan since the 1990s — had been asked to leave their posts and begin withdrawing.

In recent years, Armenia has frozen its membership in the Russian-led CSTO military alliance, which refused its calls for support when Azerbaijan launched an offensive against the country in September 2022.

Under Pashinyan’s leadership, the country has instead held joint drills with U.S. forces, dispatched humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and even hinted it could one day apply for membership in the EU. Armenia’s opposition parties have been critical of the country’s pivot to the West, claiming historic ally Russia would otherwise defend their interests — despite the Kremlin growing increasingly deferential to Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Russian peacekeepers also failed to intervene when Azerbaijani troops and tanks rolled into the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh last September. The mountainous region is within Azerbaijan’s internationally-recognized borders, but had been controlled by Armenia since a war in the 1990s. The sudden invasion, which followed an almost year-long blockade of the region’s supply lines, triggered the exodus of around 100,000 ethnic Armenian residents.

“The model by which we have problems with our neighbors and we have to invite others to protect us — it doesn’t matter who these others are — is a very vulnerable model,” Pashinyan told POLITICO last year, while vowing to resolve Armenia’s long-standing and bitter strife with Azerbaijan.





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