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Protesters demand Armenian Prime Minister’s resignation over border delimitation deal

10 May 2024
Thousands have gathered in Yerevan’s Republic Square on 9 May to join the Tavush for the Motherland’s rally. Arshaluys Mghdesyan/CivilNet.

Protesters against Armenia’s delimitation process with Azerbaijan have called on the opposition to launch an impeachment inquiry against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and vowed to hold ‘actions of civil disobedience in all possible places’.

Protesters led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan marched from the village of Kirants in Armenia’s northeastern Tavush Province to Yerevan this week in what they called a ‘symbolic’ and ‘sacred’ march.

They are protesting against Armenia’s unilateral handover of territories in the province to Azerbaijan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to begin the delimitation of their shared border in the Tavush–Gazakh section of the border, prompting condemnation and protests in the Armenian province.

Protesters from Kirants, who call themselves the Tavush for the Motherland movement, fear that security risks might arise from the state border moving closer to their village and that the border could end up going through their community.

The Tavush for the Motherland march concluded in Yerevan’s Republic Square on Thursday, where Archbishop Galstanyan issued an ultimatum to Pashinyan in front of a crowd of thousands of protesters, giving the prime minister one hour to submit his resignation.

‘We came to demand an answer from the head of the government of the Republic of Armenia, who came to our communities and unfortunately lied to us and threatened us, we came to demand an answer’, he said. ‘We have come to demand a stop to this one-sided illegal process. We are not against either peace or border delimitation, but what is happening now is unacceptable.’


‘This government, under the leadership of their leader, has completely failed in the management of the country, destroyed the entire security system’, he said, adding that he was ready to meet with Pashinyan to hold talks.

The movement also sought to push opposition parties to begin impeachment proceedings against Pashinyan’s government despite the opposition lacking the number of  MPs required to launch an impeachment inquiry.

A ‘vibrant’ movement

On Friday, Archbishop Galstanyan denied allegations that he was interested in becoming prime minister, stating that he held Armenian–Canadian dual citizenship, disqualifying him from holding the post.

Despite calling for Pashinyan’s resignation, the Tavush for the Motherland movement has yet to propose an alternative.

The movement was generally warmly received by Armenia’s opposition groups; the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party of the Armenia Alliance faction has also taken part in the rally, and the formerly ruling Republican Party voiced its support for the movement.

Armenian millionaire and chair of the Prosperous Armenia party Gagik Tsarukyan has also joined the protesters.

Arthur Khachatryan, an MP from Armenia Alliance, called on ‘all political forces’ to join the movement.

‘We are a part of the movement; we have always declared that we support and now we call on all political forces interested in the fate of Armenia to join this movement because this is not a movement for the government, this is for the territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence, and dignity of the Armenian people’, he said.

Pashinyan accused the Tavush for the Motherland movement of seeking to provoke a war with Azerbaijan, while other members of the ruling Civil Contract party accused the movement of being Russian-backed.

Tigran Grigoryan, a political analyst and the head of the Regional Center for Democracy and Security in Yerevan, told OC Media that the movement’s tactics were similar to those employed by Pashinyan during the 2018 revolution.

‘The symbolism, political demands, and even the rhetoric are quite similar to that of Pashinyan’, said Grigoryan.

However, Grigoryan expressed scepticism about the movement’s ability to mobilise larger protests in Armenia, saying that neither the leaders of the movement nor the parliamentary opposition had a concrete policy for the future of the peace process and border delimitation.

‘The fact that the movement, in the beginning, gathered a large number of protesters, shows that society is tired of the incumbent force’, he said, adding that Armenian society was frustrated with the government’s attributing its actions and decisions to deterring another war with Azerbaijan.

Grigoryan also dismissed the government’s accusation of the movement being backed by Russia, saying it was ‘too vibrant’ to be tied with one single force or power given the widespread support it received from actors such as the Armenian Church, ARF, the pro-Western National Democratic Pole, and Bright Armenia, the party formed by former Pashinyan ally Edmon Marukyan.

‘I don’t think that there will be any impact on the peace process or the ongoing border delimitation process from the political turmoil unless the protesters achieve a government change in the end.’

‘Unilateral concessions’

The delimitation process was met with criticism by Armenia’s opposition who viewed it as a unilateral concession of Armenian territory.

Prior to reaching an agreement to delimit the northern section of their shared border, Pashinyan hinted that Armenia might unilaterally return control of four abandoned villages to Azerbaijan — Baghanis Ayrym, Ashagi Eskipara, Kheyrimli, and Gizilhajili.

Azerbaijan has yet to indicate whether it intends to return territories in southern Armenia that it took control of in  2021 and 2022.

The protests in Tavush appear to have halted any handover of villages to Azerbaijan, as protesters blocked major roads in the province before marching towards Armenia, although Civilnet reported earlier this week that 40 new border points had already been set up.

Despite saying they would return the four villages, Armenia has not commented on the status of four Azerbaijani exclaves it has control of: Upper Eskipara, Sofulu, Berhudarli, and Kerki.

The delimitation process began as Armenia and Russia announced that Russian border guards would be withdrawn troops from the border with Azerbaijan and relocated to the country’s borders with Turkey and Iran.

[Read more: Russia and Armenia agree on withdrawal of border guards]