On October 17th, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where he expressed his commitment to peace and willingness to continue the peace agenda.
Pashinyan concluded his speech by exclaiming, “Long live democracy.” The European MPs responded with a standing ovation.
As expected, Baku and Moscow reacted quite harshly to Pashinyan’s statements. What was unexpected was the post made by the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, on the X social network, in which he appealed to Nikol Pashinyan, urging him to take action. Demand the immediate withdrawal of the Russian military base, leave the CIS, the CSTO, and the customs union, and submit an application to the European Union and NATO.
The Prime Minister’s speech and the subsequent statements and reactions convey numerous informative contexts and messages. Media.am interviewed representatives of the Armenian journalistic community to analyze coverage and interpretation of the Prime Minister’s speech and subsequent statements and reactions.
Nane Manasyan, FIP.am fact-checking journalist
In Armenia, it can be challenging to find an unbiased opinion due to the subjective nature of expertise in the field. However, a group of experts noted that the Prime Minister’s speech, which emphasized the importance of democracy, was highly valuable. It is believed that this emphasis on democracy could positively impact the future relations between Armenia and Europe.
Parallel to this, there is also the opinion that Aliyev is a dictator who rewards the military for committing war crimes and continues his campaign for victory in the South Caucasus. We are faced with the fact that democracy is declining, and we see that authoritarianism prevails over democracy in the region.
The pro-Western faction expressed dissatisfaction with the speech, stating it lacked the necessary strength, clarity, and unequivocal commitment to change direction. Conversely, the pro-Russian-oriented experts and information field complained about the criticism and innuendos aimed at Russia.
Both parties equally criticized and even mocked the applause that followed the speech. They believed that the European deputies’ emotional response was being weighed against the loss of our territories and the security issues we face instead of imposing sanctions on Azerbaijan.
Seeing Pashinyan being criticized using propaganda by sources close to the Kremlin has become a regular occurrence. At one point, Armenia’s relationship with Russia had deteriorated so much that official figures exchanged criticisms and conflicting responses in the information space. Now, the bar has been lowered once again, and state resources are being utilized, including the state propaganda machine. In my opinion, this shows that efforts are being made to avoid aggravating the situation
Drawing parallels between Pashinyan and Zelensky in the Russian press is not new. The recent emphasis on attributing all failures to leaders who carried out color revolutions only confirms this trend.
The circulating thesis in the information field suggests that Pashinyan, Zelensky, and Saakashvili share common political goals, i.e., to steer their countries away from Russian influence and towards the West.
Regardless of his location and condition, Saakashvili is widely regarded as a promoter of European values. When considering his appeal to Nikol Pashinyan, it is important to consider the situation in Georgia, which lacks consolidation around the external vector and has an executive power with a pro-Russian orientation.
However, it was not welcomed or opened up any new discussion, even among the pro-Western expert community.
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Civilnet.am journalist
In his speech in Strasbourg, Nikol Pashinyan highlighted several key points that reflected the current situation in the country. He presented himself as a champion of democracy. He appealed to the European Union and the wider democratic community for support in overcoming obstacles impeding the country’s progress towards democracy. He also stated that his country is open to enhancing its relationship with Europe to the extent that Europe deems necessary. However, he did not explicitly mention a shift in direction towards the West, which some had expected; this led to dissatisfaction within some communities. Instead, Pashinyan hinted that Europe is not yet ready for more expanded cooperation.
The speech received a mixed response in our information domain. Both the pro-Russian and the pro-Western wings interpreted it according to their biases. Those with a pro-European orientation were dissatisfied that the speech was not sharper, but they noticed a step forward. Meanwhile, the press and bloggers with a pro-Russian orientation immediately pointed out that Pashinyan criticized Russia openly in one case and more covertly in another.
Russia’s reaction to issues related to Armenia has been quite strong lately. The country has become increasingly sensitive to these issues, reacting as strongly as it did in the case of Ukraine. Similarly, in the past, Russia has also shown a sensitive reaction to the matters related to Georgia. As a result, we find ourselves in a confrontational environment in the information block.
Russia’s response to Pashinyan’s criticism was in line with his indirect remarks and delivered through a senior official via state media.
It is crystal clear that the political authorities in Russia grant the media full permission to condemn the authorities in Armenia. The media in Russia is predominantly under the authorities’ control, particularly regarding sensitive topics. The media operates under strict guidelines and requires approval from the appropriate authorities before publishing information. The media is fully aware that it is imperative to criticize the authorities of Armenia harshly.
Apart from Russia, Baku also issued a strongly worded statement, which was, to some extent, expected. Baku aims to avoid being labeled as a country involved in ethnic cleansing and is keen on upholding its image as a reliable European partner.
They operate quite adeptly in Baku, managing to respond in a manner that doesn’t offend Europe while simultaneously aligning themselves with key Russian narratives and exacerbating the differences between Armenia and Russia. Their informational efforts are carried out skillfully, yielding effective results.
Regrettably, the same proficiency level in Baku’s information management is not present within our information domain. We are significantly behind in producing journalistic pieces with clear and understandable analyses or in-depth studies of the situation for the international community.
Only a few news outlets are making an effort in this regard. Additionally, the fragmentation within the political landscape in our country is mirrored in the media. The media is primarily aligned with political sponsors, and their stance corresponds with the views of these political patrons. They function as advocates for political positions and craft an informational backdrop that supports them.
Given the problematic state of Armenian-Russian relations, former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, seized the opportunity to express his stance against Russia.
In the context of the current challenges in Georgia’s relations with Europe, as Georgia attempts to balance its ties with Russia, Armenia is the only one with the informational opportunity to take a stand against Russia. And this is why Saakashvili emphasized that Armenia should sever its ties with Russia and move towards the West.
This call can be regarded as a political statement, as there is currently no immediate prospect for Armenia to join the European Union and NATO.