Representatives of the Armenian diaspora join the "Resistance Movement" in Armenia (OPINION)

by Roza Asgarova

On April 24, mass protests were launched against the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in the Republic of Armenia. The protests, dubbed the "Resistance Movement", began on April 25 with a march from Ijevan to Yerevan by several members of the “Armenia Alliance”. On April 26, Anna Grigoryan, a representative of the “Armenia” bloc of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, organized a pedestrian march from Karki village in Ararat province to Yerevan (occupied Azerbaijani enclave village) with members of the Youth Department of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and a group of citizens. A march from the statue of Davit Sasuntsi to Freedom Square was held in Yerevan on April 26.

On May 1, a protest against the Prime Minister's Administration, coordinated by the Vice Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Ishkhan Sagatelyan, leader of Dashnaktsutyun party, was held in the Square of France in Yerevan with the involvement of former Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan. About 5,000 people took part in the protest. On May 18, supporters of the “Resistance Movement” staged protests in several parts of Yerevan.

The “Movement” was joined by some representatives of the Armenian diaspora. Representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation living in Iran, Lebanon and other countries also came to Yerevan to take part in the protests. Despite this, the "Resistance Movement" gradually began to collapse.

During the working visits of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan which took place in May, he was met with protests organized by some diaspora members. One such protest took place on May 10-11, while the Prime Minister of Armenia was visiting the Netherlands. During the visit, Pashinyan met with Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, President of the Senate Jan Anthonie Bruijn and President of the House of Representatives Vera Bergkamp. In addition, the Prime Minister was scheduled to attend the official opening of the exhibition "Under the Spell of Ararat: Treasures from Ancient Armenia" and to give a speech at the Clingendael - the Netherlands Institute of International Relations on Armenia and The Netherlands. Centuries-old friendship - 30-year partnership". According to the Central Committee of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) in Western Europe, "the Prime Minister's meeting with the diaspora was arranged in advance by government officials". Thus, according to representatives of the organization, the Prime Minister's Administration "selected a special group of people for the meeting to support Pashinyan". Nubar Vardanyan, a representative of the Armenian diaspora in the Netherlands, accused the Prime Minister and his administration of "massive financial expenditure in order to prevent the presence of opposition members in the exhibition opening ceremony". Not satisfied with this, representatives of the Dashnaktsutyun party staged protests during Prime Minister’s speech at Clingendael and at the hotel where he stayed, shouting "Nikol is a traitor". In addition, representatives of the diaspora accused the Prime Minister's administration of "spending the taxes of Armenian citizens to calm the opposition in the diaspora".

On May 15, video recordings from representatives of the diaspora were presented in the Square of France in Yerevan and several members of the diaspora expressed their support for the opposition. The presentation took place on the eve of the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow, where the dashnaks planned to hold protests. As a result, the Prime Minister postponed a meeting with the head of the Armenian diocese in Moscow. On May 20, Pashinyan left for Nizhny Novgorod. Representatives of the diaspora there also received the Prime Minister with protests, and a group of just 30 people attended a meeting with the Prime Minister organized by the administration.

Pashinyan, who arrived in Brussels to meet with President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the President of the European Council Charles Michel, was also received there with criticism and accusations from representatives of the diaspora.

The European Armenian Federation for Democracy and Justice (EAFJD) issued a statement, claiming that Karabakh could not be a part of Azerbaijan and calling on the European Union to "prevent this from happening using its tools for influence". The Central Bureau of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, in its turn, issued a statement criticizing US Ambassador to Armenia Lynn Tracy, accusing her of failing to promote issues of interest to Armenia.

It should be mentioned, that the driving force of these protests is the pro-Russian circles in Armenia. Armenia's 30-year occupation policy has had a negative impact on the country's development, and some segment of the Armenian society understand that.

Despite the support from the diaspora which the opposition movement enjoys, some representatives of the Armenian diaspora have also expressed a more pragmatic view. On May 21, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party issued a statement on behalf of Armenians living in the United States regarding the events in Armenia. In the statement, the organization's representatives criticized the opposition and the diaspora members of the opposition for their political scheming and provocative activities. The statement also claimed that the opposition's views were not shared by the majority of the Armenian population. In this regard, the representatives of the organization emphasized several points: the diaspora can never be subordinate to one government and no organization has the right to speak on behalf of the whole diaspora, nor do all diaspora members support the US campaign against the Ambassador to Armenia. The diaspora must respect the choice of Armenian citizens and support the government elected as a result of fair and democratic elections.

This statement manifests that, despite the divisions in Armenian society, there are groups that advocate a lasting peace in the region above short-term political maneuvering.

Roza Asgarova, an adviser at the Center of Analysis of International Relations in Baku, Azerbaijan, special for News.Az

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