Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian on Saturday urged Nikol Pashinian to urgently negotiate with him on ways of ending the political crisis in Armenia resulting from massive street protests against his rule organized by the opposition leader.
“I am deeply concerned about the ongoing internal political developments,” Sarkisian said in a statement. “For the purpose of avoiding irreversible losses, I am calling on National Assembly deputy Nikol Pashinian to sit at a negotiating table for political dialogue. That must be done immediately.”
Sarkisian said Armenia’s major political forces can contribute to such dialogue. His Republican Party, the pro-government Armenian Revolutionary Federation and President Armen Sarkissian already made similar offers to Pashinian earlier this week.
Pashinian responded to the premier’s appeal as he continued to stage anti-government rallies in Yerevan. He said Sarkisian’s resignation must be the main subject of any talks with the authorities.
“We are ready to discuss the terms of his departure,” he told reporters while marching, together with several hundred supporters, through Yerevan’s northern Nor Nork and Avan districts. “I am calling on Serzh Sarkisian to accept our conditions.”
Pashinian set the same conditions when he addressed tens of thousands of Armenians in the city’s Republic Square the previous night. He said the Armenian parliament must also form an interim government and call snap general elections.
In his statement, Sarkisian said nothing about the precise subject of the proposed talks with Pashinian. Instead, he warned of “unpredictable consequences” of the protests which entered their ninth day. They are “jeopardizing public order and damaging the complex and delicate fabric of the Armenian society,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Armenian police said they will no longer tolerate Pashinian’s “illegal” rallies and are ready to end them “immediately.”
Pashinian dismissed the use of force threatened by the authorities and insisted that his campaign is lawful. He warned the authorities against arresting him, saying that would only accelerate “the victory of the revolution.”