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Armenian Opposition Boycotts Parliament After Incidents Along Azerbaijan Border

Opposition deputies leave Armenia's parliament, November 16, 2021
Opposition deputies leave Armenia's parliament, November 16, 2021

YEREVAN -- The two opposition factions in Armenia’s parliament have announced a boycott of a regular session of the legislature on November 16, accusing the pro-government majority of scuttling their attempt to discuss the situation at the border with Azerbaijan.

The Hayastan and Pativ Unem factions requested hearings in the National Assembly on the matter after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian accused Azerbaijani troops of violating the border between the two South Caucasus states.

Baku denies its troops have entered Armenian territory as a result of several cease-fire violations reported along the border over the weekend.

The incidents came amid persistent heightened tensions between the two neighbors after they fought a 44-day war over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region a year ago.

“The opposition factions had demanded a special meeting to get answers from the government about what is happening at the borders of our homeland,” Hayk Mamijanian, secretary of the Pativ Unem faction, told parliament on November 16.

“That process was foiled by the ruling majority. Instead, today we see on the agenda of the National Assembly an issue of [the utilization] of mercury,” he added.

Mamikanian said that Pativ Unem members will return to the chamber when important issues regarding Armenia’s security will be discussed.

Members of the two oppositions factions then left the chamber, while the session, which also had the 2022 state budget on its agenda, continued with the participation of representatives of the pro-governing Civil Contract party.

With 71 seats in the 107-member National Assembly, Civil Contract is in a position to ensure a quorum and adopt laws without the opposition.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but had been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

Last year's war ended when a Russia-brokered cease-fire granted Azerbaijan control of parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent territories previously held by ethnic Armenians.

International mediators have called for an immediate de-escalation of the situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border following three days of reported incidents blamed by Yerevan and Baku on each other.

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