In an interview with Armenian Public Television aired on Wednesday night, Sarkissian insisted that this is a necessary condition for addressing what he called a “deep crisis” in Armenia.
“There must be pre-term elections,” he said. “The [last general] elections were held two years ago. The current authorities won a [popular] mandate for the National Assembly and the government two years ago. Armenia that existed two years ago is different from today’s Armenia.”
The country should now be run by an interim and politically neutral government that would hold the snap elections within a year, he said.
Sarkissian first called for such polls on November 16 amid opposition protests against terms of the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement that locked in Azerbaijan’s significant territorial gains made during the six-week war.
Armenian opposition groups blame Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian for the military defeat and say he must resign.
Pashinian has dismissed the opposition demands and given no indications so far that he is ready for snap polls. He has promised instead to reshuffle his cabinet to “establish stability” in the country in the coming months.
The embattled premier stated on Wednesday that the opposition drive to force him to step down is not backed by most Armenians. His political allies argued earlier that only a few thousand people have attended anti-government rallies held in Yerevan.
“The existing crisis is not determined by the number of people [protesting] in the streets,” Sarkissian said in an apparent response to such arguments. “I believe that we have a really deep crisis in Armenia and a simple analysis will help us understand why there are no 100,000 or 200,000 people in the streets.”
The president, who has largely ceremonial powers, flatly denied some government backers’ claims that he wants to become prime minister. But he did indicate his desire to have a stronger influence on government policies and political processes.
“I am able to use only 5 or 10 percent of my potential for my country due to constitutional constraints or my partners not being open to cooperation … I believe I can do much more in international relations and the investment-related, cultural and diplomatic areas but am doing very little,” he complained.
Sarkissian went on to reveal that he has dawn up a policy “roadmap” for the would-be interim government. He said it contains a set of urgent government actions which he believes are vital for Armenia in the current circumstances. “These are concrete tasks for concrete spheres,” he added without elaborating.