U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills on Tuesday praised the Armenian police and anti-government protesters led by Nikol Pashinian for avoiding bloodshed during their 11-day standoff that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
“This is a day to commend,” Mills told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The protesters, the demonstrators, the Armenian people came out in a peaceful and orderly way under the leadership of Mr. Pashinian.”
He noted the “professionalism” of Armenian security forces shown during the sustained protests against Sarkisian, while urging the authorities to investigate instances of violence against some protesters and journalists.
“This is a great moment for the Armenian people and the spirit of democracy in this country,” stressed the envoy.
Mills also commended Sarkisian, saying that the former president acted like a “real leader” and listened to “the voice of the Armenian people” when he stepped down on Monday.
A statement by the U.S. State Department thanked Sarkisian for helping to strengthen U.S.-Armenian relations during his ten-year rule. It expressed hope that his successor will be chosen in a transparent and constitutional manner. The statement also called on Armenia’s leading political groups to “avoid an escalation of the situation and any violent actions.”
Karen Karapetian, who took over as Armenia’s acting prime minister, is due to start crisis talks with Pashinian on Wednesday. The opposition leader has publicly voiced a number of political demands, including the holding of snap general elections.
“We look forward to working with Mr. Karapetian, the acting prime minister, in the days ahead,” said Mills. All sides should resume their dialogue to “agree on the steps forward,” he added.