Former President Serzh Sarkisian assured Armenians on Friday that he is not seeking their country’s “return to the past” more than two years after losing power as a result of mass protests.
Despite remaining the top leader of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Sarkisian has kept a low profile since the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” triggered by his attempt to extend his decade-long rule. During a rare and brief conversation with journalists in April this year, he promised to hold an extensive news conference after a coronavirus-related state of emergency in Armenia, which was due to end on May 14 but has been repeatedly extended since then.
In a series of short video messages posted on Facebook on Friday, Sarkisian blamed the current government’s “failed fight against the pandemic” and the continuing state of emergency for his failure to meet the press and speak at length for the first time since the revolution. He said he has decided to record instead video answers to questions preoccupying the public.
“It is clear that there can be no return to the past,” the 66-year-old ex-president said in response to one of those questions. “But it is equally clear that it is impossible to attain a bright future without correctly evaluating the past. The history of the newly independent Republic of Armenia cannot start from April 2018.”
“We have many things to do,” he went on. “Without losing hope, we need to consolidate all resources of our state, all capable forces and individuals and to move forward.”
Sarkisian added that he has rarely made public statements so far in order to avoid adding to political tensions and “polarization” in the country.
Other senior HHK figures regularly and strongly criticize the administration of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, a former journalist who led the 2018 protests fuelled by popular anger against government corruption and injustice. They accuse the current authorities of incompetence, misrule and attempts to stifle dissent.
Pashinian and his political allies dismiss these claims. The premier has repeatedly implicated Sarkisian, his family and political entourage in corruption both before and after coming to power.
Sarkisian, his two brothers, son-in-law Mikael Minasian as well as some former senior officials have been indicted in separate corruption investigations launched after the 2018 regime change. They reject the accusations as politically motivated.