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Armenian President Meets Serzh Sarkisian


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (R) meets with Armenian Ambassador to Britain Armen Sarkissian in Yerevan, 19Jan2018.

President Armen Sarkissian met with his predecessor Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday amid rising political tensions in Armenia.

A short statement released by the presidential press service said they discussed “the situation in the country.” It gave no details.

Serzh Sarkisian’s office and the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) headed by the former president issued no statements on the meeting.

The two men have rarely met since Sarkisian was toppled in a 2018 popular uprising that brought Nikol Pashinian to power.

The protest movement known as the “Velvet Revolution” erupted just weeks after Armenia’s former HHK-controlled parliament installed Armen Sarkissian as president. The latter was handpicked by Serzh Sarkisian to serve as head of state as the country completed its transition to a parliamentary system of government.

After the revolution Sarkissian was strongly criticized by senior HHK figures for rarely challenging Armenia’s new government headed by Pashinian. The president rejected the criticism.

Sarkissian publicly called on Pashinian to resign as prime minister and pave the way for snap elections following the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh that resulted in heavy Armenian casualties and territorial losses. It sparked anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan organized by a coalition of 16 opposition parties, including the HHK.

The opposition forces want Pashinian to cede power to an interim government which they say should hold the fresh elections next year. The prime minister and his political team reject these demands.

Armen Sarkissian, who has largely ceremonial powers, indicated late last month his desire to have a stronger influence on government policies and political processes. But he denied some government backers’ claims that he wants to run the government.

Speaking during a video conference with youth activists from Shirak province on Tuesday, the president complained that the Armenian political discourse is focused on individuals, rather than policy programs.

“We must not talk about individuals but rather … follow programs with which each or most of you would agree,” he said. “In our country there is no culture of the political leadership presenting a program, rather than a wish list.”

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