The European Union on Sunday called on Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and opposition forces challenging him in the streets to urgently resume negotiations on settling the deepening political crisis in Armenia.
A spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also said that the Armenian authorities must “fully respect” citizens’ constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully and “apply the law in a fair and proportionate manner.”
“All those who have been detained while exercising their fundamental right of assembly in accordance with the law must be released immediately,” Maja Kocijancic said in a statement released several hours after the arrest of the protest leader, Nikol Pashinian, and two other Armenian opposition lawmakers.
“It is of utmost importance that all parties involved show restraint and act responsibly,” added the statement. “An inclusive dialogue, as President Arman Sarkissian has called for, aimed at an immediate and peaceful resolution of the current situation, is essential.”
The EU official described as “disappointing and worrying” the failure of brief crisis talks held by Serzh Sarkisian and Pashinian in the morning.
“The European Union reiterates that it is crucial that all parties show restraint and responsibility and urgently seek a negotiated solution,” read a separate statement released by the EU Delegation in Armenia and the Yerevan-based embassies of EU member states.
Amid the angry protests sparked by Serzh Sarkisian’s decision to extend his rule, the EU’s two top officials have congratulated him on becoming Armenia’s prime minister on April 17, eight days after serving out his final presidential term.
President Sarkissian, who arranged the premier’s meeting with the outspoken opposition leader, seemed to blame Pashinian for the collapse of Sunday’s talks, while also calling for renewed dialogue. “It is essential to give up the unconstructive stance and behavior, which could undermine the country’s stability, and continue to look for possibilities of dialogue,” he said.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Serzh Sarkisian’s junior coalition partner, likewise said compromise solutions can be found even after “the latest events.” There can be “no winners and losers” in the standoff, it warned.
The embattled premier was in no rush to again reach out to his protesting political opponents. One of his allies, parliament speaker Ara Babloyan, said Pashinian is not interested in “mutual concessions” and will therefore be responsible for “severe” consequences of the standoff.
Meanwhile, the opposition Yelk alliance, of which Pashinian is a leader, strongly condemned the arrest of its three parliamentarians and demanded their immediate release. It said Pashinian, Ararat Mirzoyan and Sasun Mikaelian must be freed in order to “ensure a peaceful course of the events.”