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Armenian PM Vows Cabinet Shakeup (UPDATED)


ARMENIA -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian addresses the parliament in Yerevan, November 16, 2020

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Wednesday pledged to reshuffle his government and gave no indications that he will resign or agree to snap general elections in the aftermath of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In a statement that outlined his further actions, Pashinian again accepted responsibility for the outcome of the six-week war that resulted in significant Armenian losses and Azerbaijani territorial gains.

“I am also primarily responsible for overcoming the situation and establishing stability and security in the country,” he said. “I want to stress that I not only do not intend to abandon that responsibility but am also fully committed to that task.”

Pashinian went on to present a 15-point plan of government actions and objectives for the next six months. They include the return of ethnic Armenian refugees to Karabakh and reconstruction of their homes damaged during the war, the restart of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by Russia, France and the United States, and the repatriation of all Armenian prisoners of war and civilian captives.

Pashinian’s “roadmap” also envisages a major reform of Armenia’s armed forces, continued fight against corruption and government efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus and stimulate economic activity in the country.

“In order to implement this roadmap, I am carrying out changes in the government’s composition,” he said without elaborating.

“In June 2021 I will submit a report on the roadmap’s implementation. Based on its results, we will decide our further actions by taking into account public opinion and reactions,” added the embattled prime minister.

Armenia - Opposition parties hold an anti-government rally in Liberty Square, Yerevan, November 18, 2020.
Armenia - Opposition parties hold an anti-government rally in Liberty Square, Yerevan, November 18, 2020.

Pashinian made no mention of his resignation and fresh parliamentary elections demanded by the Armenian opposition. Opposition forces hold him responsible for the Armenian side’s defeat in the six-week war that was stopped by a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement on November 10.

President Armen Sarkissian has also called for snap polls, saying that they would “save the country from upheavals.” In a televised address to the nation aired on Monday, Sarkissian said they should be held by a new, interim “government of national accord.”

Two members of Pashinian’s cabinet, Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Minister for Emergency Situations Felix Tsolakian, have resigned this week.

Later on Wednesday, 17 opposition parties campaigning for Pashinian’s resignation held another rally in Yerevan’s Liberty Square attended by several thousand people. Opposition leaders repeated their allegations that the current government has lost its legitimacy and must go.

ARMENIA -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian addresses supporters demonstrating in Yerevan, November 18, 2020
ARMENIA -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian addresses supporters demonstrating in Yerevan, November 18, 2020

Meanwhile, about 200 supporters of Pashinian, many of them demobilized army reservists and volunteers, gathered in the city’s Republic Square to voice support for Pashinian and condemn the opposition.

Pashinian approached the small crowd and urged it disperse, saying that he will rally supporters “if need be.”

One of his aides, Nairi Sargsian, denied opposition claims that the government itself organized the pro-Pashinian demonstration. “Had we organized it this square would have been packed,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

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