– Alexander Maksovich, according to the results of the recent Gallup International survey the Armenian citizens see no need to hold early elections in the republic. At the same time, the survey showed that if early elections were scheduled for the next weekend, the ruling party “Civil Contract” would gain 17.5%, the “Armenia” bloc 4.9%, and the “I Have Honor” bloc 2.2%. In other words, Nikol Pashinyan’s party is twice as popular as the parliamentary opposition. What do you think is the reason for Pashinyan’s popularity? And what is the reason behind such an attitude to the opposition?
– Even ignoring the quality of the polls I would not call 17.5% huge popularity. In any case, this is about one and a half times less than Pashinyan’s party got in the elections last year. There is always a certain percentage of people who support the existing authorities simply because they are in power. There is also a significant percentage of people who vote “on the contrary”, i.e. radical opponents of the pre-revolutionary elites.
The low rating of the opposition is a combination of two factors. The first is the lack of a positive programme: the opposition’s programme is usually limited to criticism of the authorities. The second factor is a negative attitude towards the former regime and its leaders who lead the opposition.
In general, the political structure of “weak social legitimacy of both the government and the opposition” has been characteristic of Armenia since around the beginning of the 1990s. After the revolution, a typical post-revolutionary euphoria reigned for some time, with off-scale percentages of support for the authorities. This could not last long, and Armenia returned to its usual structure.
– Skepticism about the CSTO. How likely is it that Pashinyan, a former adversary of the CSTO and the EAEU, will decide to withdraw Armenia from these associations?
– It is unlikely. The CSTO is indeed criticized in Armenia, including by political elites. However, it is not clear what benefits Armenia can get from withdrawal from this organization, and how skepticism towards the CSTO can lead to Armenia’s withdrawal from the EAEU. Based on practical considerations, it is difficult to imagine such solutions.
– Why does Yerevan insist on the obligatory participation of French President Macron in the talks with Baku? What’s wrong with the usual Yerevan-Baku-Brussels and Yerevan-Baku-Moscow formats?
– There are no “usual formats” in the negotiation process yet. Any internationalization of contacts, according to official Yerevan, is useful for the process, especially since meetings in this format have already taken place without causing protests from either the Armenian or Azerbaijani sides.
– What is your forecast regarding the timing of the signing of the peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan?
– I don’t think the parties are close to signing an agreement. The positions of the parties on the content of the document differ so much that it is quite difficult for me to imagine its signing in the coming weeks or even months.
– What is your opinion on the prospect of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations?
– They are directly dependent on Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. In addition, in my opinion, it is unrealistic to expect any serious progress in this process before the elections in Türkiye next summer.