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What happens after Pashinyan’s victory?

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, June 30
On June 20, Pashinyan won the early parliamentary elections in Armenia. The majority of voters in Armenia reaffirmed their support for the leader during whose rule Armenia suffered a heavy defeat in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. However, this support has not diminished the severity of the failure, nor the promises made earlier for the reforms to be carried out.

In the June 20 parliamentary elections, Pashinyan’s Civic Pact party won 71 seats and can form a government on its own. The Georgian state and the opposition also congratulated Pashinyan on his victory. According to the statements made by the representatives of the opposition, they were able to hold early elections in Armenia (which the opposition in Georgia has been demanding), in accordance with democratic standards. In this sense, Armenia was considered the leader of the democratic process in the South Caucasus.

However, the defeated political forces in Armenia have their opinion regarding the quality of democracy of the elections. For example, the Kocharyan bloc ‘Armenia’, which took second place, does not recognize the election results.

After Pashinyan’s victory, many predictions are made about his future policies. According to the most ‘pink’ forecasts, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem can be considered solved and now nothing will hinder the development of Armenia's cooperation with Turkey and Azerbaijan. For this, Pashinyan will also make a unilateral compromise. However, the existing reality provides very little basis for such a prediction.

We can name several factors:

1. Armenia maintains part of Nagorno-Karabakh after the 2020 war - about 2,500 square kilometers. The small Armenian population remains there thanks to Russian peacekeepers. Their departure also means the departure of the Armenian population. Ilham Aliyev is no longer talking about any status that the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh will have in Azerbaijan. Will the Armenian society reconcile with the final loss of Nagorno-Karabakh? Will it forgive Pashinyan?

2. After the Karabakh war, a serious border conflict arose between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Azerbaijani military units in the southern part of Armenia, in several places about 200 sq. km. They occupied the territory and declared that on their maps from the Soviet period it was the territory of Azerbaijan. Pashinyan immediately asked for Putin's help and set up a branch of a Russian military base in southern Armenia (Syunik).

3. After the war in 2020, the Azerbaijan-Turkey union is deepening and from the position of the winner, Armenia is demanded to open a transport corridor, which will connect Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan and Turkey with free movement on the territory of Armenia. At the same time, Armenia maintains a ban on Turkish products in protest of Turkey's open assistance to Azerbaijan during the war. Armenia has also filed a lawsuit against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, accusing it of sending Syrian mercenaries during the war in Azerbaijan and of human rights abuses in Nagorno-Karabakh.

4. Pashinyan promises the Armenian society a wide range of reforms, but he will need to take urgent measures to restore the country's defense capabilities. Today, Armenia's security depends essentially on Russia's military presence. But Armenia seems to be disappointed by Russia. Russia was actively arming Azerbaijan and during the war, Armenia was not provided the assistance it expected. Russian weapons, which made it impossible to repel Azerbaijani drones, did not work either. It is also important for Armenia to seek Western guarantees of security, which will irritate Russia.

The main task for Georgia in the South Caucasus region remains unchanged - to maintain good neighborly relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, the new geopolitical situation in the region after the 2020 war is not entirely clear. In the conditions of the increased influence of Russia and Turkey in the South Caucasus, the activity of the West in the region is important for Georgia.

Georgia welcomed the agreement reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan through the mediation of Georgia and the United States, according to which Azerbaijan released 6 Armenian prisoners of war, and Armenia handed over the maps of the mined fields to Azerbaijan.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said after a visit to the South Caucasus that Russia's influence in the region was growing and that more Europe was needed in the South Caucasus. He said that if Europe does not return to the South Caucasus, there may not be a place to return soon. Humanitarian aid, support for reforms, election monitoring, mediation - such should be the European soft power in the region. The European Union is already fulfilling this mission in relation to Georgia. However, despite the agreement reached through Charles Michel, there are serious differences and controversies among Georgian political forces over its implementation.