Armenia’s newly elected Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian confirmed on Tuesday his participation in a summit of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member states which will be hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi next week.
Pashinian discussed the agenda of and preparations for the May 14 summit with acting Deputy Prime Minister Vache Gabrielian just hours after taking office. A statement by his press service quoted him as calling for the “expansion of relations with the member states” of the Russian-led trade bloc comprising five ex-Soviet states.
Both Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were quick to congratulate Pashinian on being elected as Armenia’s prime minister by the parliament earlier in the day. Pashinian, for his part, sent a congratulatory message to Medvedev, whom Putin reappointed as premier after being sworn in for a fourth presidential term on Monday.
Pashinian also held separate meetings with the head of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS), Georgi Kutoyan, and acting Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian and General Onik Gasparian, the first deputy chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff.
The new premier said Sargsian and Gasparian briefed him, among other things, on the situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and “the line of control” around Nagorno-Karabakh. “On the whole, everything is fine and under control,” he said in his first Facebook broadcast from the former presidential palace in Yerevan that will now serve as his headquarters.
Sargsian announced his resignation immediately after the meeting with Pashinian. “This is the right thing to do,” he said in in a written address to Armenian Defense Ministry officials and military personnel. “The minister is a political official and his work can only be effective in a team of like-minded individuals.”
“You are the spine of our nation,” he said. “Stay strong and our state will only move forward.”
Sargsian, who has long been a figure close to former President Serzh Sarkisian, went on to defend his track record. He said he has successfully cracked down on corrupt practices in the Defense Ministry and helped to provide the armed forces with new weapons and other military equipment since being appointed as defense minister in October 2016.
“I am proud of handing over a more efficient and combat-ready army to my successor,” added Sargsian.