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Seda Ghukasyan

Kapan Mayor Urges Armenian Parliament to Draft Bill Allowing Arming of Residents

During a parliamentary working discussion today, Kapan Mayor Gevork Parsyan asked MPs to draft a bill allowing residents to be armed and thus defend the border from Azerbaijani encroachment.

The session, organized by the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) faction, is tasked with reviewing the border issue in Armenia’s southern Syunik Province. Sections of the border are now being contested by Armenia and Azerbaijan because of the recent war in Artsakh.

BHK and Bright Armenia MPs attended the session. Prosperous Armenia faction secretary Arman Abovyan said that government officials and MPs of the ruling My Step (Im Kayl) faction were invited but did not attend.

Kapan Mayor Parsyan said that Armenian PM Pashinyan convened a meeting in Goris and called on people in Syunik to set up self defense units.

"We quickly organized ourselves and started defending the settlements. Unfortunately, we were completely alone during that period,” Parsyan said.

The Kapan mayor said that while the November 9 ceasefire agreement called on military forces to remain at their current position, the Armenian Defense Ministry issued an order on December 17 calling on Armenians to withdraw from their positions.

"The enemy is 100 meters away from our residential areas in Syunik, and one kilometer from Kapan. Giving up those lines has caused a serious problem," said the mayor.

Parsyan told MPs that the Kapan-Agarak highway is now under Azerbaijani control. He said that there’s an alternative road but it’s impassable in winter and must be renovated.

Parsyan said the situation remains unclear and that he’s unable to answer questions posed by residents about the future.

BHK MP Mikayel Melkumyan asked whether there was a danger that the people of Syunik would leave their homes and whether Armenian authorities had discussed the border mapping with community leaders.

Parsyan responded that there had been no discussion with community leaders about the ongoing border demarcation process.

"We are actively cooperating with the Ministry of Defense, those generals we were in contact with were not aware that we would give up our positions. We met with the Minister of Defense. I asked what happened that we ended up leaving our former positions. The minister said that it had already been agreed to,” Parsyan said.   

Parsyan said it is vital that border guards be deployed along the entire border and that a demilitarized zone be created. He said that Armenian and Azerbaijani military troops should not be deployed to the area to prevent any potential clashes.

He said that for the past three months Syunik local community officials have had nothing to do with the national government in Yerevan except for the Ministry of Defense and the National Security Service.

Parsyan said that regular Armenian military units have recently been sent to Syunik, arguing that despite this, residents should be armed. Such a move, he said, would increase their sense of security.

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