In the first 24 hours of his Premiership of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, the newspaper oligarch, turned backpack wearing “peaceful revolutionary” has come full circle and is now Armenia’s political leader and has already taken to making promises that are more ambitious than those made by leaders with years of experience behind them.
Pashinyan’s list of promises is as follows:
–Armenia will remain a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union, remain a friend to Russia, remain a member of Collective Security Treaty Organization and intensify relations with the EU and USA.
–Armenia will pursue international recognition for Armenia’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh or as Armenians call it the Republic of Artsakh. At the same time, Pashinyan ruled out military solutions to the conflict over territory recognised internationally, including technically by Yerevan as Azerbaijan’s sovereign land. Baku has stated its own confusion in the face of Pashinyan’s mixed messages over the long disputed territory.
–Armenia has had a revolution but not a colour revolution like Georgia in 2003 nor Ukraine in 2004 and 2014.
–Armenia will lessen the influence of local oligarchs, even though Pashinyan is an Armenian oligarch.
–Armenia will open unconditional discussions about establishing relations with Turkey, but Armenia will also force Turkey to recognise the events of 1915 as genocide.
When taken in totality, Pashinyan seems to think he can wave a magic wand and make all of these things happen when in reality, his goals are so ambitious that one must necessarily ask if he realises the difficulty in delivering on his promises.
Of course in an ideal world, Armenia and Turkey would have found a way to establish relations long ago and so too would the Nagorno-Karabakh have been settled long ago. But without concrete plans for doing these things and without realising the difficulty of a small, landlocked and poor nation in trying to do what has been a mighty task even for large and strategically important nations like Turkey, The Philippines and Pakistan in ‘looking both east and west’, it appears that Pashinyan may have set him self up to disappoint the people he has recently thanked for helping him peacefully take power.
Furthermore, Pashinyan must realise that there is a fine line between making one’s country appear attractive to those on both sides of the wider divide between ‘east and west’ versus setting one’s country up to become a political football in wider geopolitical power struggles.
When Pashinyan meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on the 14th of May, one can hope that as one of the most politically experienced leaders of the 21st century, Putin might be able to advise Pashinyan on pragmatic solutions for Armenia’s problems that stand a chance of being accomplished.
Until then, it remains to be seen when and how Pashinyan can accomplish any of the seemingly contradictory goals he has promised to deliver.