Who's going to lead occupation regime in Karabakh - economist or diplomat

Who's going to lead occupation regime in Karabakh - economist or diplomat

In 2020 the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, unrecognized by anyone, including Armenia, will hold elections of the head of the republic. Long before the beginning of the election campaign, there are already disputes over the issue of alleged favorite. Basically, there will be “elections” in the fifth part of the territory of Azerbaijan, where, as a result of the military expansion of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and seven regions adjacent to it were occupied.

As a result of the conflict, over million Azerbaijanis became internally displaced persons, 20 thousand people were killed during clashes, 50 thousand people became disabled, about 4 thousand Azerbaijanis went missing; entire settlements, mosques, historical monuments, industrial and agricultural enterprises, bridges and other infrastructure were destroyed in Karabakh. One of the consequences of this war was huge economic crisis. However, today a handful of people continue to benifit from human tragedy, hiding behind national slogans and relying on external support from those guided by medieval principle of "divide and conquer."

Yesterday, during the Hard Talk show of the BBC radion channel, host Stephen Sakur caught his guest, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, on being inconsistent and lying when he talked about Armenian approach to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This interview showed that the West is not so badly informed about what is happening around Nagorno-Karabakh. Sakur said: “When Prime Minister says ”Karabakh is Armenia. That's the end of it", he knows that this violates international law, position of the UN and all independent international organizations, so it's difficult for me to imagine how this could be a step towards peace." Host also recalled that over the past two decades, Armenian army has been responsible for very serious crimes, which was recognized by the UN, the European Court of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

In any case, due to its destructive policy Armenia prevents resolution of the conflict. Through political and military provocations it seeks to disrupt negotiation process, maintaining status quo based on occupation of Azerbaijani territories. In these conditions, the election of the puppet regime in the occupied territories is especially outrageous.

Nevertheless, preparations are already underway. Mamikon Babayan, columnist of Vestnik Kavkaza, wrote about alleged candidates for the post of head of the self-proclaimed republic.

Speaking about political features of occupied Karabakh, three points must be taken into account.

First of all, it's a relatively closed region, dominated by the Karabakh elite (current representatives of the military and participants in the Karabakh conflict), and there's no real political opposition there.

Second of all, the so-called political elite is not interested in reforming current system. All changes taking place there are exclusively internal, corporate, although they are public in nature.

Third of all, political system of the unrecognized republic is closely tied to Yerevan, which ensures longevity of the self-proclaimed regime. During the presidency of Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sargsyan (natives of Karabakh, active participants in the Karabakh war), this problem didn't raise any questions, but after the events of the "Velvet revolution" separatists began to show their concerns.

Current head of the self-proclaimed Karabakh Republic, Bako Sahakyan, protege of the Kocharyan-Sargsyan tandem, won't participate in the upcoming elections. Experts say that former prime minister of the self-proclaimed republic, now adviser to Sahakyan, economist Araik Harutyunyan, who was born in Stepanakert (Khankendi), may lead the occupation regime. In 1990, he graduated from the Physics and Mathematics School and enrolled in the Yerevan Institute of National Economy, but in 1994 he returned to Karabakh, where in 1995 he graduated from the Arts Department of Artsakh State University, which was previously called the Stepanakert branch of the Kirovakan Pedagogical Institute (before the occupation in 1992). Knowing that it's impossible to make a career in self-proclaimed republic without military merits, Harutyunyan began to fight on the side of separatists since 1992.

After the signing of indefinite truce, Harutyunyan expected his career to bloom. In 1995-1997, he worked in the economic institutions of the self-proclaimed republic as an assistant to minister, and headed the Armagrobank branch. Harutyunyan is responsible for ensuring and conducting almost all round tables and meetings between separatists and investors. He's responsible for attracting financial resources to support the life of the regime. Harutyunyan is familiar with many famous Armenian philanthropists from abroad.

At the same time, Harutyunyan is familiar with politics of the Karabakh clan. Most of the officials, heads of almost all rural communities in Nagorno-Karabakh, owe their posts to him personally. Most officials were also appointed according based on his recommendations, and their children go their jobs thanks to him. Harutyunyan is modest, ready to cooperate with Yerevan, or at least maintains diplomatic distance with it. Finally, he has an impressive resource of the leading political party “Free Homeland,” and he is supported by Bako Sahakyan.

At the same time, Armenians of Karabakh still blame him for political cowardice that Arutunyan showed during the "Velvet revolution." Fearing the repeat of revolutionary scenario on the territory of the self-proclaimed republic, in the spring of 2018 Harutyunyan resigned from the post of prime minister in advance, and when everything calmed down, he returned to power as an adviser to “president”. Nevertheless, Araik Harutyunyan is able to ensure preservation of traditions of the Karabakh elite, which makes him the number one candidate from the regime.

However, Harutyunyan doesn't have clear reform program. There's only a set of slogans, which always gets applause and enthusiastic shouts at the rallies. Most importantly, he does not have his own team, only a collective of employees formed by Bako Sahakyan, which will be handed over to Harutyunyan. If Harutyunyan becomes head of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, then the change of power will simply be ceremonial.

The second candidate is the “Minister of Foreign Affairs” of the occupation regime Masis Mayilyan. Reformer, talented politician and diplomat Mayilyan is considered to be the favorite of progressive Armenian politicians, as well as associates of the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, who openly sympathizes with Mayilyan.

Masis Mayilyan isn't typical for self-proclaimed Karabakh, he's not a "front man". In 1986-1988 he served in the ranks of the Soviet army, and just like Harutyunyan he graduated from the Physics and Mathematics Department of the Stepanakert branch of the Kirovakan Pedagogical Institute, he received prestigious education. But unlike many future businessmen and oligarchs of the self-proclaimed republic, Mayilyan became propagandist and diplomat. He even did an internship at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.

After returning to occupied Karabakh, he worked on creation of favorable image of the occupation regime in the eyes of the international community. Mayilyan reported on situation in Karabakh without mentioning any stages of the war and the post-war occupation that defamed regime’s reputation, denied the facts of war crimes committed by the separatists. Lacking talent and charisma, Mayilyan skillfully remained in the shadow of big politics, but for a long time he held a very high post.