In an attempt to overcome the post-war crises, the prime minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan announced the scheduled date of snap elections – June 20, 2021.

Against the backdrop of the decreasing popularity of the incumbent prime minister, many political figures previously in power show intentions of returning to active politics. The second president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan is one of the

An extraordinary number of political parties and alliances will be taking part in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia. With 26 political forces in competition, it seems like the voters are having a hard time properly evaluate the pre-electoral program of each. 

One of the most important issues voters want the parties and alliances to cover in their pre-electoral campaigns is the future of Artsakh.

Particularly, the areas that were handed over to Azerbaijan without any local military conflict, such as the district of Kalbajar which is abundant in natural resources vital to Armenia. The district of Kalbajar remained protected by the Armenian military forces during the entire 44-day war and surrendered to Azerbaijan with the November 9 agreement. 

‘Hayots Hayrenik’ is one of the 26 political forces taking part in the elections. Their candidate for the prime minister Artak Galstyan made an observation during a nationally televised interview that the trilateral agreement signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia on November 9, 2020 is invalid as PM Nikol Pashinyan didn’t have the right to sign it. Galstyan also talked about a few other important issues the many voters are concerned about. 

Why November 9 Agreement Is Invalid

Since signing the peace agreement with Azerbaijan on November 9, Nikol Pashinyan has been continuously accused of signing a document he was not eligible to sign. Additionally, he signed it without discussing it with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces, and the National Assembly. 

Being a lawyer, Artak Galstyan explains why Nikol Pashinyan didn’t have the right to sign the November 9 document and why the agreement itself is not something to be considered an international unit. 

“The agreement has been invalid since the moment it was signed. Nikol Pashinyan didn’t have the right to sign it. Firstly, because he was not the supreme commander in chief. And secondly, because in case of violation of the territorial integrity of Armenia, the government should conduct a referendum before signing the document. Therefore, from the point of view of international law, the November 9 document is not valid,” says PM candidate Artak Galstyan

As Galstyan explains, the prime minister of the Republic of Armenia becomes the supreme commander in chief only if war is declared on Armenia. As the Republic of Artsakh hasn’t officially been recognized to be a part of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan wasn’t the commander in chief of the country. 

‘Hayots Hayrenik’, if it manages to win in the upcoming elections, is going to make constitutional changes, establishing a presidential system in the county. This form of government implies that the president is the supreme commander in chief of the country at all times. 

What Can Be Saved After the Elections?

With the document signed on November 9, Armenia handed over to Azerbaijan the districts of Agdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin in addition to the districts of Zangilan, Kubatlu, Fizuli, and Jabrayil that Azerbaijan had taken over during the 44-day war. However, the territorial gains of Azerbaijan didn’t stop there. Taking advantage of the beneficial positions of its new military posts and the demoralized state of the Armenian army, Azerbaijan encroached on the sovereign territory of Armenia. Many voters wonder if there is a party or alliance among the 26 forces that can use both military and diplomatic tools to win back at least some of the territories of Artsakh and guarantee the security of the Armenian borders. 

Galstyan states that if he were the prime minister of Armenia, Azerbaijan would never advance into the sovereign territory of the country as it did multiple times within the past few months, including on May 12 in the territory of Sev Lich, Syunik Province. 

According to the PM candidate, while Armenia is the losing side and Azerbaijan is considered to be much stronger at the moment, it would take only one billion dollars to create modernized army units that would protect such areas as Sev Lich. 

Having a military background, Artak Galstyan thinks that more budget should be allocated to advanced weaponry and training of servicemen. Doing this will provide the safety of the border areas of Armenia. Considering that the country’s external debt has grown by nearly US $4.5 billion within the past three years, Pashinyan’s government could spend more money on the development of the army. Why the government didn’t spend more resources on modernizing the army is a big question considering that the prime minister once stated that they knew from day one that war with Azerbaijan was unavoidable. 

During a nationally televised discussion broadcast earlier in June, Artak Galstyan stated that it is possible to restore the territorial integrity of Armenia and Artsakh. It took Azerbaijan 30 years to advance and modernize its armed forces. It will take Armenia less time to develop and win back the territories it lost in war and as a result of poor foreign policy. Investing another billion dollars into the army, Artak Galstyan finds it possible to bring back the regions of Hadrut and Shushi.