Successful in war, Armenian veterans of the 1988-1994 conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno Karabakh have been far less successful in securing the benefits they say they deserve from the Armenian government.
Since May, hundreds of Armenia’s estimated 15,000 to 21,000 Karabakh war veterans have been locked in a tug-of-war with the government and parliament for higher pensions and discounts on medical assistance, tuition fees for their children, utility bills and public transportation. But after two meetings with Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian, one with Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, the submission of a draft law to parliament and weeks of protests and sit-ins in Yerevan’s Liberty Square, matters remain deadlocked.
The issue strikes directly at the heart of Armenia’s post-Soviet identity. The campaign for ethnic Armenians to control Karabakh, predominantly ethnic Armenian territory also claimed by Azerbaijan, was a central plank in the movement of the late 1980s that eventually resulted in Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan. Anahit Hayrapetyan is a freelance photojournalist based in Yerevan.