Karabakh Discourses in Armenia Following the Velvet Revolution


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By Anahit Shirinyan

Although Armenia’s Velvet Revolution had a domestic focus, the emergence of a leadership that has come into power on a democratic platform holds repercussions for the foreign policy in general and for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in particular. Since coming into power in May 2018, Armenia’s Pashinyan has made a number of announcements that offer a glimpse into his policy, and that most probably will comprise Armenia’s updated position over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Pashinyan has argued a few times that he can only speak on behalf of Armenia at the negotiations; the people of Karabakh do not participate in Armenia’s elections, and they should be represented by their own elected representatives.  He has on several occasions stated that he is ready to compromise, but only after Azerbaijan drops its military rhetoric and acknowledges the Karabakh people’s right to self-determination. At the same time Pashinyan has also stated during rallies that he will not sign any deals without talking to the people of Armenia, even if he reaches what he deems as a fair deal at a negotiation.

It is worthwhile to note that in October 2018 an agreement was reached between Pashinyan and Aliyev to reduce tension and open a line of communication between the sides.  This process can help create a more constructive environment for talks if the sides demonstrate political will to uphold them. However, there is also a reason to be skeptical as past agreements on confidence building have not been implemented. In order for the Velvet Revolution to prove an opportunity for the peace process, both sides would need to have an input towards that end.

Perceptions in Azerbaijan of the Impact of Revolutionary Changes in Armenia on the Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Process


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By Zaur Shiriyev

The first five months of interactions between the post-revolutionary Armenian government and the Azerbaijani side were complex: they raised and then reduced the hopes among the Azerbaijani public for change. The most important element, despite the ups and downs, misperceptions, and contradictory statements, is that the new Armenian government has the capacity to lead the way toward the conflict’s solution.  This is because the majority of the public and the leadership in Baku believe that the previous Armenian government benefited from the legacy of the Karabakh war, whereas the new leadership is more open and has officials who bring experience in peace building. There is an opportunity for building trust in order to move forward on conflict resolution. The two sides reached an impressive preliminary agreement on the ceasefire regime and operative channel, but they also reached the limit of mutual misunderstandings. Any further contradictory moves or developments that damage the fragile trust could be devastating.  In the near future, especially after the snap elections in Armenia, it is important for the Azerbaijani side to see that the Armenian government has a vision for peace. Articulating a plan to prepare the Armenian public for peace is necessary to reassure Azerbaijani society.



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By Anahit  Shirinyan  and  Zaur  Shiriyev

To the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia

Rhetoric, communication, and public debates

Mutual Symbolic Gestures

To the international community and international donors

To the media and opinion makers

* The cover photo of this piece is a painting by Constantine Godwin, titled “Guarnica revisited”. It is taken from Saatchi Art.