Traditionally in February, when an anniversary of the Khojalu tragedy is marked, Azerbaijan is using its diplomatic and propaganda machine to invite the world attention to the Armenian “atrocities” during the 1992-1994 war in Karabakh.
This year, however, this campaign has been particularly vigorous in view of at least two propaganda failures suffered by Baku in the last several months.
Almost all presidential elections in the history of independent Armenia were followed by protests, with the second-placed candidate disputing the official outcome and claiming massive fraud in favor of the government candidate. The 2013 election is no exception in this sense.
The February 18 presidential election in Armenia has proved to be unexpected not only for the “modest” level of Sargsyan’s score (about 59 percent) considering predictions of his landslide by a wide margin, but also by the number of votes polled by his main opposition challenger, Raffi Hovannisian (about 37 percent).
According to the preliminary results announced by the Central Election Commission this morning incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan has been reelected with more than 58 percent of the votes. However, supporters of the officially second-placed candidate Raffi Hovannisian (who got about 37 percent of the vote) insisted all night that he had won in all major cities and towns and that at least the runoff should be appointed.
The announcement by the leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) Levon Ter-Petrosyan of plans to set up a new social-liberal party on the platform of the current opposition bloc has elicited mixed reactions, with some representatives of the government calling it the sign of the former president’s political fiasco.
The race towards the presidential election in Armenia, which is scheduled to be held on February 18, is taking place against the backdrop of what appears to be a determination of the future of Armenian-Russian relations. The topic became open after the assassination attempt against one of the presidential candidates, national self-determination advocate Paruyr Hayrikyan, who openly accused “Russian imperialism” of organizing the attack.
Presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan, who was wounded in an apparent assassination attempt late last week, is soon expected to announce his decision on whether he wants the campaign to be suspended and elections postponed by two weeks – an opportunity given by the Constitution – or he rather sees no ‘insurmountable obstacles’ to his electioneering.
Armenia’s recent military acquisitions and announced modernization of some of its defense capabilities may fit the general context of a big war prospect in the Greater Middle East that is deemed as real as ever after this week’s direct involvement of Israel in the escalating conflict in Syria.
On January 28, which was officially marked as Army Day in Armenia, the South Caucasus country was unexpectedly visited by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha, who had an impressive delegation with him.
The wave of protests that struck Azerbaijan last week may become a detonator of a military adventure in the South Caucasus.
The incident in the Ismayilli region of Azerbaijan reminded of the Arab Spring scenarios, thinks head of the Analytical Center on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, political analyst Stepan Grigoryan. In the current situation, in his opinion, it is possible that official Baku will try to direct popular discontent against Karabakh and replace public discontent with nationalism.