A parliamentary campaign has started in Armenia. The main plot of the pre-election battles is the release of the Armenian military from Azerbaijani prisons. Nikol Pashinyan’s opponents reproach him for his inaction. He says that he is ready to exchange the prisoners for his son Ashot. And the problem of border demarcation, which is painful for the republic, is only getting worse.
War of compromising evidence
They have been talking about prisoners of war in Armenia since the end of last year, when they signed a statement on a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan does not make concessions and calls those detained in December saboteurs. There is no agreement even on the number of those arrested. Yerevan speaks about two hundred, Baku confirms the capture of sixty.
Even before the parliamentary campaign, Nikol Pashinyan’s opponents scolded him for his helplessness. Before the elections, the reproaches are getting harder and harder. Former President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, who leads the “I Have Honor” bloc in the elections, caught and. about. premiere in cowardice.
“The military every day live in fear that something terrible will happen to them: torture, rape, murder. Pashinyan, in general, understands the state of the people in prisons? Let Ashot (Pashinyan’s son. – Ed.) exchange for the detained soldiers”, – suggested Sargsyan.
He could not restrain his emotions after Pashinyan’s meeting with voters in the Armavir region, where he said:
“May the military forgive us for being in captivity for another month or two. But they will not forgive us if we cede independence to Armenia for their release”.
For such an attitude, he also got it from his main competitor – former President Robert Kocharian. He heads the bloc uniting the Dashnaktsutyun and Reviving Armenia parties. Kocharian is sure:
“Azerbaijan uses the prisoners as a lever of pressure on Pashinyan to force him to make new concessions”.
Rivals of the acting prime minister refused to participate in televised debates with him. “It makes no sense to speak with a misfortune leading Armenia to death,” said the campaign headquarters of the country’s first president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan. In the upcoming June 20 elections, he leads the Armenian National Congress Party. Ter-Petrosyan explained his return to politics by “the impending threat of collapse”.
Pashinyan did not reach into his pocket for a word either. He called his predecessors a “bunch of upstarts” guilty of the collapse of the armed forces and total corruption. Moreover, he agreed to exchange Ashot’s son: “For you, Sargsyan, as a pimp for many years and a specialist in human trafficking, I say – I agree. And I officially offer Aliyev a son instead of all the prisoners of war.”
Ashot himself is not against going to Azerbaijan as a hostage. “Was always ready and ready now”, he wrote on Facebook.
Azerbaijan is closely following the election campaign. Baku has repeatedly made it clear that during this period it will not discuss the problem of prisoners. And only after the emergence of a stable government in Yerevan, the discussion is not ruled out.
However, Baku promised progress in the issue of prisoners of war, if the Shusha-Red Bazaar road passes under the control of Azerbaijan. Now there are Russian peacekeepers there. Another probable condition for the exchange is the transfer of seven Azerbaijani villages by Armenia under the influence of Baku.
But the recent mine explosion of Azerbaijani journalists in the Kelbajar region changed the alignment. Three people were killed. Baku laid the responsibility on Yerevan. According to the Azeri side, the mining was carried out by Armenian soldiers, who were later taken prisoner. Baku requires a map of minefields.
Pashinyan replied that the military were close to the Kelbajar border as part of the demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“A war of compromising evidence is in full swing in Armenia. Competitors are leaking discrediting information. Pashinyan is no exception”, – RIAC expert Sergei Melkonyan says in an interview with RIA Novosti. but he himself cannot do anything”.
The political scientist draws attention to the terms of the November ceasefire statement in Nagorno-Karabakh. One of the points is the release of the prisoners: “Until Baku fulfills this, Yerevan should have relieved itself of responsibility for the document”.
After the end of the war, not all Armenian soldiers managed to leave the territories that came under the control of Baku. The political scientist believes that in this matter, the responsibility lies with the Pashinyans: “As a result, for example, in the Hadrut region, they were surrounded. Baku considers them saboteurs and therefore does not let go.”
Melkonyan believes that on the eve of the elections, Azerbaijan can release a significant part of the prisoners of war. Pashinyan will present this as a personal achievement in order to increase the rating.
“However, Baku is pursuing the same goal: to raise Pashinyan’s ratings”, – Melkonyan said.
“For Azerbaijan, he is the most convenient counterpart. Unlike Kocharyan or Sargsyan, it cannot refuse to fulfill its promises to unblock transport corridors in the region”.
“Why does Azerbaijan need Pashinyan’s son if he’s not guilty of anything? Baku is holding back saboteurs who refused to lay down their arms after the end of the war. The first group of Armenian soldiers in the Hadrut region was captured in December, a month after the November statement was signed. There was enough time, but they didn’t left the area and attacked civilians who set up cell towers”, – says Azerbaijani political scientist Nijat Hajiyev.
He admits that progress on this issue was possible before a group of journalists was blown up by mines in the Kelbajar region. “The Armenian military penetrated deep into the Kalbajar region at night. Six of them were captured, but they managed to mine some of the territories. A week later, two media workers were killed there,” Hajiyev said.
Despite the claims of the parties, the political scientist believes that a compromise is possible – if Armenia does not interfere with the demarcation of borders and the republics mutually recognize territorial integrity. “Another condition is to unblock the transport corridors, primarily the Zangezur one. It will allow us to get direct access to the Nakhichevan enclave,” Hajiyev predicts.
At the same time, both Armenian and Azerbaijani experts admit that it is not easy to find common ground on controversial issues. Much depends on the outcome of the elections. An equally important condition is political will to solve problems.
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