The World Today for June 16, 2021



The Defeated

Serzh Sargsyan, a former Armenian president and prime minister now running for parliament, recently pledged to offer his son to the country’s former enemy, Azerbaijan, in order to free Armenian prisoners now detained in the latter country.

The strong words were typical of the heated climate in Armenia in the run-up to elections on June 20, reported Bloomberg.

Thousands of Armenian troops died in the 44-day war that broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan last year. The country lost a portion of the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia brokered a truce between the two former Soviet republics in November and peace talks are ongoing, the Russian state-owned Tass news agency wrote. Azerbaijani officials say the Armenian troops they continue to hold are “saboteurs” captured after the end of hostilities.

Sargsyan and his Republican Party of Armenia lost power in 2018 during the so-called Velvet Revolution that ushered Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his Civil Contract political party into power. In the wake of the military defeat, Pashinyan stepped down in order to trigger snap elections so that Armenians could render their judgment on who should lead the country, as Al Jazeera explained.

Pashinyan came into office vowing to refrain from cracking down on officials from the past regime. Recently, however, he threatened those who would use their public office to help the former regime return. “Go to polling stations and replace our velvet mandate with a steel one, and you will see political vendettas, and you will see civil vendettas, and you will see staff purges,” he said at a campaign rally, according to eurasianet.

Meanwhile, polls show Pashinyan and former president Robert Kocharyan’s Armenia Alliance are within a few points of each other, wrote Armenia Weekly, a left-leaning Armenian-American newspaper.

Perhaps, though, the only real winner in the race will be Russia, wrote Emerging Europe. Armenia’s defeat illustrated how the West would not protect it from aggression. Many Armenians feel as if they have nowhere else to turn for allies other than Russia, especially since another one of Armenia’s traditional enemies, Turkey, supports Azerbaijan, as the Associated Press demonstrated.

Ethnic Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, meanwhile, wonder if and when Azerbaijan might seek to kick them off their land, Radio Free Europe reported. Azerbaijan has yet to move in Azerbaijani citizens who fled during the first Nagorno-Karabakh war from 1988 to 1994.

Being the defeated is not easy. The next administration has its work cut out for it.

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