Tavush border dispute escalates amid political turmoil

The blocked road to Kirants (Tavush for the Homeland Facebook page)

YEREVAN—As of today, access to the roadway leading to Kirants village in the Tavush province remains restricted to registered residents only.

In response to restrictions imposed by the Border Guard troops of the National Security Service (NSS) along the state border near Kirants, representatives of the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement, who have been mobilizing against the Armenian government’s decision to cede four border villages in Tavush to Azerbaijan, made their way to the area to address the situation firsthand.

Upon arrival, they encountered a formidable obstacle. Hundreds of individuals, identifiable by their distinctive red and black berets, stood guard, refusing entry to Tavush to opposition MPs seeking to engage with local residents. Official announcements from the NSS press service indicate that temporary restrictions on access to Kirants have been imposed, citing security and operational imperatives.

This move has sparked concerns and objections from the population, with Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, leader of “Tavush for the Homeland,” arguing that such measures infringe upon the rights of citizens and may exacerbate tensions in the region. The archbishop was reportedly barred from entering the area but later made his way to the people of Kirants. 

“This is the modus operandi of those engaged in clandestine, subversive activities. These individuals have become nothing more than willing instruments,” remarked the archbishop on the matter.

In an interview with the Weekly, Garnik Danielyan, a member of Parliament representing the “Hayastan” faction who has been part of the movement since its inception two months ago, said, “We need security guarantees. Our people should be able to live peacefully in our villages. With these steps, it will become impossible. Armenians will not be able to live safely in Armenia.”

A meeting took place late yesterday evening at the community hall in Kirants, which will lose agricultural land, several houses and part of a critical highway as part of the land transfer. Representatives from the office of the Tavush governor engaged in discussions regarding compensation issues with a select group of Kirants residents for several hours.

Owners of two houses that cross into Azerbaijani territory have been issued a deadline: they must vacate their homes by June 24. This implies that Azerbaijani authorities may officially register ownership of these properties by the end of June.

Following the meeting, administrative head of Kirants Kamo Shahinyan provided an update. He confirmed that an alternative route constructed by the Armenian government will bypass the village of Acharkut, heading directly towards Kirants and then converging with the new school building area. Previously, the head of the prime minister’s staff, Araik Harutyunyan, said that construction has commenced and will comply with international standards. “The road will be widened and will also be accessible for trucks,” he wrote, assuring that the road construction will be completed within two months.

On May 17, the governor of Tavush, accompanied by NSS officials, held a closed meeting affirming the transfer of lands and homes from Kirants to Azerbaijan. MP Danielyan shed light on the meeting. He claimed that the citizens of Kirants were approached with offers of bribes by the current regime in exchange for ancestral graves, churches, land and residences. 

“The resolute response from the people of Kirants exemplifies a steadfast commitment to the sanctity of our homeland. They firmly asserted that while some may succumb to the allure of bribery, our nation’s integrity remains priceless,” stated Danielyan.

Danielyan expressed concern over the potential compromise of national security interests, particularly highlighting the handover of a portion of a key bridge to Azerbaijan.

“Despite initial assurances that vital infrastructural assets, including homes, bridges and villages, would remain safeguarded, recent developments suggest otherwise,” Danielyan said, urging for a comprehensive reassessment of the situation to uphold the nation’s sovereignty and security.

Archbishop Galstanyan’s potential ascent to the role of prime minister of Armenia for a year has garnered significant attention, as revealed during his recent meeting with political forces on May 18. Galstanyan has been meeting with different political actors in Yerevan to garner support for his call for PM Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation. During the gathering, Archbishop Galstanyan outlined several aspects of his proposed political framework, which entails the formation of a temporary cabinet. This cabinet would comprise solely non-partisan professionals, ensuring a depoliticized approach to governance.

The archbishop proposed that the interim government’s tenure would span one year, after which new parliamentary elections would be conducted. The interim prime minister, if appointed, would be barred from participating in these subsequent elections, fostering a level playing field for political contenders. The archbishop’s agenda reflects a broader sentiment among opposition political circles regarding the need for systemic reform and stability in Armenia’s political landscape.

Archbishop Galstanyan is set to continue his series of meetings with various public representatives this week, culminating in a final rally by the week’s end, planned for May 26. During this concluding gathering, the archbishop intends to unveil a roadmap for a change in leadership, signaling the initiation of more proactive measures. 

Until May 26, opposition factions in parliament have pledged not to table a vote of no confidence nor propose changes to constitutional norms regarding dual citizenship and prime ministerial candidacy. The Armenian constitution bars people holding dual citizenship from serving as prime minister, and the archbishop has Canadian citizenship.  

Following the latest session of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border demarcation and delimitation commissions last week, “Tavush for the Homeland” issued a statement, denouncing the Armenian government’s actions as detrimental to the nation’s interests. According to the movement, the government’s trajectory has remained unchanged since April 19, persisting along what they characterize as a criminal path.

In their official statement, the movement accused the government of allegiance to the Azerbaijani-Turkish alliance at the expense of Armenia’s sovereignty, society and citizens. They asserted that the government’s actions lack constitutional grounding, disregard legal principles, undermine the nation’s integrity and dismiss the will of the people, as expressed through popular dissent.

Concluding their statement, “Tavush for the Homeland” called for the immediate cessation of the government’s activities, which they labeled destructive to Armenia’s national interests and the well-being of its citizens. They argued that the current government fails to represent the aspirations of the Armenian people and advocated for a new direction that prioritizes the nation’s sovereignty and welfare.

Despite widespread opposition and legal challenges, including a recent crime report submitted to the General Prosecutor’s Office by the Hayaqve movement, the government has persisted in its course of action. 

Arman Tatoyan, former Human Rights Defender of Armenia, has criticized recent statements from the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office regarding border delimitation with Azerbaijan. Tatoyan argued these statements mislead the public and jeopardize Armenia’s security by presenting legal inconsistencies and discrepancies in official descriptions of border activities in Tavush. He stated that the delimitation process lacks democratic legitimacy and fails to safeguard the rights of affected communities. 

Tatoyan warned of the adverse impact of land transfers to Azerbaijani control on border residents and the environment. He challenged the government’s claim following the latest border commission meeting that Azerbaijan returned 25 hectares of agricultural land near Kirants to Armenia, stating that the land was already under Armenian control, albeit as a minefield.

Hoory Minoyan

Hoory Minoyan

Hoory Minoyan was an active member of the Armenian community in Los Angeles until she moved to Armenia prior to the 44-day war. She graduated with a master's in International Affairs from Boston University, where she was also the recipient of the William R. Keylor Travel Grant. The research and interviews she conducted while in Armenia later became the foundation of her Master’s thesis, “Shaping Identity Through Conflict: The Armenian Experience.” Hoory continues to follow her passion for research and writing by contributing to the Armenian Weekly.


  1. I am a huge Areg Kochinyan fan! I agree with him that Russians should no longer protect Armenia’s borders, and that Turks and NATO should protect Armenia’s borders.

    Turkey is the guarantor of Armenia, and Armenians should forget the Genocide.

    American think tanks are correct, and Armenians should forget all Armenian history if we Armenians are to get our desired riches.

    • Good to know that there still exists Armenians that can think clearly. This conversation has nothing to do with either liking Russia or Russians. This also has nothing to do with where one lives. This conversation has to do with truth, objectivity and intellectual honesty. I personally could careless about Russians. However, whether we like it or not Russia is and will be the alpha and omega of Armenia’s existence. Taking into account Armenian traits (our people’s collective abilities and disabilities) and the general geopolitical situation in the south Caucasus, I believe that Armenia needs to be brought into a close union with Russia, if Armenia is to survive…

      One more time: Had Russians not come down to the south Caucasus and resurrected Armenia in the early 19th century, Armenians would still be riding scraggly donkies as an Islamized or Kurdified minority in the desolate hills of eastern Turkey. Everything we were proud of about modern Armenia – its cultural achievements, scientific research centers, world renowned figures, education system, museums, monuments, architecture, national infrastructure, armed forces, atomic powerplant, subway, etc – was largely a result of Russian and Soviet influence.

      Even today, it’s Russia that enables Armenia’s very existence. Russia is our landlocked and impoverished country’s largest trade partner. Russia provides Armenia with one of the lowest energy rates in the world. Russia provides more than 70% of Armenia’s tourism. Russia is the destination of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Armenia who send back home billions of dollars. Russia is the home of the largest and most affluent Armenian population on earth. Russia has kept western Turks on their side of the Arax River…

      Long story short, Armenia will cease to exist the day Russia fully pulls its hand away from Armenia. Armenians who are Russophones are therefore either deranged lunatics or Turkish/Western agents, or both.

    • Your post is a spoof.

      Hard to belief that any true Armenian could write such nonsense.

    • @Robert Whig

      You are false. Armenians want Russia out and Turkey in. Why else would Armenians want to replace the USA, which has conducted Genocides all across the globe, and allied itself with Genocidal regimes in Israel and Turkey?

      When Nikol Pashinyan, Areg Kochinyan, Azgayin Bever, ARGBU, Zoryan Institute, and Noubar Afeyan, get their way, there will be NO MORE Russia in Armenia. Russia will be replaced with American ally, Turkey.

      Turkey will guard Armenia’s borders. Time to shut up, this is what we want. Forget about the Genocide. Forget about your silly history.

      What did you think would happen once those pesky Russkies are gone? A Caucasus Switzerland? Only ridiculous, delusional people think like that.

      It feels so good finally being able to say the plans out loud, while most Armenians believe n silly concepts like democracy or human rights…

    • Terrorist genocidal Turkey established on the lands and corpses of millions of its murdered indigenous populations should be nuked into oblivion. Those who say Armenians should forget the Armenian Genocide should be charged with treason with life imprisonment. Those who say Armenians should forget all Armenian history should be sent to the Siberian labor camps on a one-way ticket!

    • @Areg Kochinyan fan!

      So your post is a spoof.

      You are trying satire and sarcasm.

      Armenians do need to live the real world and all those who failed their Geography exams at school need to be ignored.

  2. Why is Berge Setrakian of AGBU stepping down, with ties to the World Economic Forum and George Soros, stepping down?

    Berge Setrakian was instrumental in helping Nikol Pashinyan come to power with his unholy alliance with American NGOs, George Soros, etc. Berge Setrakian’s AGBU never condemned Nikol Pashinyan, but engaged in a jihad of blaming Robert Kocharyan for everything that was wrong with Armenia, 6 months after Kocharyan got into power.

    With a phalanx of western NGOs, Berge Setrakian’s legacy to Armenia was demoralizing Armenia, by painting Armenia as a corrupt hell hole, because Armenia had Artsakh, and was able to defend itself.

    Only now, with Armenia on its knees begging from Turks, does Berge Setrakian’s AGBU not label Armenia as corrupt.

    Berge Setrakian and his army of minions, including Noubar “clotshot” Afeyan, were masterful at destroying Armenia, while blaming true patriots.

    • The traditional diaspora, the north American diaspora in particular, is utterly toxic to Armenia. What Armenia needs is less exposure to diasporan missionaries (i.e. democratizers, benefactors, westernizers, political activists, experts, etc)…

  3. A diaspora tends to have strong views about the homeland and national issues. This was a known feature of the Irish diaspora regarding Britain and the Polish diaspora regarding Russia. Whereas the people living in the lands tend to be more mild in their opinions. Thus Armenia is no exception to this principle. Nevertheless the diaspora have provided finance and lobbying efforts globally without such Armenia would have been under impossible pressures.


      Glad you brought this up. Majority of the police force are convicts, fellons, hooligans of March 1 2008 Yetevan rioters, and NON-Amenians. They all are given uniforms, badge, and guns to quell the peaceful protesters. In one video, There’s this
      a rather chubby policeman beating up an 18 years old kid, while the female bystander yelling at the cop asking why he was beating. The cop yells back at her with an accent he says,” YALLA,YALLA, GENAH GENAH”. Meaning, hurry, hurry, go go”. Western Armenians say, ” KNAH, and not GENAH. The protesters are doing all this wrong. You don’t fight these savages with flags and bullhorns, you fight violence with violence.

  5. So if the residents of those village decide to remain on the Azery side? What then? Will they be persecuted?

    • @Edward Demian

      Azerbaijan doesn’t allow Armenians to set foot in Azerbaijan, let alone live there. The psychological terror, blockade, starvation and violence inflicted by Azerbaijan on the Artsakhis before they ethnically cleansed all of them, is very recent memory. Those poor villagers have lost their homes and livelihoods. And adding insult to injury, the dispossessed Armenian villagers, will likely not be compensated by the traitor Pashinyan government for their lost homes and livelihoods, and provided with new homes and jobs, because they opposed the sellout of their homes, villages and Armenian land by the traitor Pashinyan.

  6. I agree with Gurgen’s opinion on the need to keep a close relationship with Russia.
    Political ties to the west are wishful thinking and dreaming.
    Armenia has to build up its own military force, like Israel.

    • Like Israel? One that is armed to the hilt by the USA and much of its homemade equipment is underwritten by the USA. Much of the munitions destroying Gaza are recently supplied by USA well on the way to rendering the area uninhabitable by 2030 which is making a cliché that was popular before 7 October becoming a reality. Nevertheless it does mean less munitions for Ukraine which is why they haven’t been doing as well in their war with Russia since the Hamas attack on Israel. Russia was never going to allow Armenia to be a local Sparta since it prefers weak helpless allies it can control and “rescue” . Pashinyan has at least shown the bankruptcy of such a situation Russia own preoccupation with Ukraine and need to keep on cordial terms with Turkey and Azerbaijan means that Armenia is essentially expendable in their current retrenchment.

  7. Just looked up “Areg Kochinyan”.

    What a nutter!

    Another ome of those who failed their geography exams.

    These American Armenians really are a curse to Armenia.

  8. And today on 24 May 2024, the traitor Pashinyan callously handed the four Armenian villages and 6.5 square kilometers of Armenian land to the terrorist state Azerbaijan, which violently grabbed and continues to occupy 200 square kilometers of Armenian land since 2021. Not only have the Armenian residents lost their homes and livelihoods, they will very likely not be compensated and provided for by the Pashinyan government, because they opposed him for his treachery. Disgusting.

  9. Where is the AGBU and other Armenian parties? They should all be publicly backing srpazan Bagrat. Along with all these hayastanci singers some legit most not so legit. Where are they? Do people realize that a turkic/US backed mole is president of Armenia and giving away land little by little? We, all Armenians could be left without a homeland.

    • What I want to kbow is where is Serj Tankian and Arsine khanjian, both of who played a big part in bringing Pashinyan to power in 2018. How come not a word from them? Not even a simple apology for their treachery back in 2018.

  10. @Gurgen2

    Serj Tankian and Arsine Khanjian have been conspicuously silent on Pashinyan for the last few years, especially Tankian who championed Pashinyan as the “democratic hero” and “savior”, who would bring “democracy”, “freedom” and “prosperity” to Armenia. I am speculating and I might be wrong; I suspect Tankian might be even embarrassed for having championed Pashinyan, and that is why he is silent. If Tankian were to criticize Pashinyan now, it would expose him as a hypocrite.

    • @Gurgen2
      Its ok to admit a mistake, its commendable. Its cowardly to hide after making a bad judgement however.

      Unless of course he still sort of backs this mole.

  11. Nikol the cowardly cuckold ran away from Bagrad Srpazan

    Nikol got punked hard. He a coward

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