“Rumors are being constantly circulated about my resignation, even though I have made clear that I will give up the status bestowed on me by the people only on the basis of credible results of an expression of the people’s will,” Pashinian said in a televised address to the nation. “As long as there has been no such expression of the will I will continue to perform my duties.”
“I want to again emphasize that the number one challenge now is to stabilize the security environment around Armenia, and we are going to consistently follow that path,” he added.
Pashinian did not explicitly express his readiness for snap parliamentary elections, also demanded by opposition forces blaming him for the Armenian side’s defeat in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. Instead, he again accused them of seeking “leave the people out” of political processes in the country.
One of Pashinian’s close associates indicated last week that the ruling political team is ready to discuss with the Armenian opposition the possibility of fresh elections. Opposition parties said afterwards that they have received no such offers from the government yet.
Most of them want of them want the elections to be held within a year by a new and interim government. The idea has also been advocated by Sarkissian.
“If you have a crisis, if you lose a war … you have to start anew. Otherwise the defeat will become an ordinary occurrence,” the president told CivilNet.am on Friday.
“You don’t need 200,000 or 300,000 [protesting] on the streets to have a crisis. You just need to see it. Therefore, the first step must be the resignation of the government and the formation of a [transitional] government.”
Sarkissian met over the weekend with Vazgen Manukian, a veteran politician nominated as a caretaker prime minister by a coalition of more than a dozen opposition parties holding anti-government protests in Yerevan and other parts of the country. The protests were due to continue later on Monday.
Manukian was also received by Catholicos Garegin II, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Garegin and other top clergymen of the church too have urged Pashinian to hand over power to an interim government tasked with holding the elections.
Pashinian came under fresh opposition fire on Saturday as Azerbaijani troops seized two more villages in Nagorno-Karabakh’s southern Hadrut district which was mostly occupied by them during the six-week war.
Russian peacekeepers stationed in Karabakh rushed to the scene of the fighting in the following hours. “The situation in that area has been normalized,” their commander, Major-General Rustam Muradov, stated on Sunday.
Pashinian discussed the situation with members of Armenia’s Security Council and other officials at an emergency meeting held on Sunday. He accused Azerbaijan of violating key terms of a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement that stopped the war on November 10. Citing the same agreement, he also said he expects the Russian peacekeepers to help place the two Hadrut villages back under Karabakh Armenian control.
In his televised remarks aired the following morning, the Armenian premier accused his political opponents of disseminating false rumors about additional Armenian territorial concessions made to Azerbaijan in a bid to spread panic and discredit his government. He claimed that the anti-government campaign of “information terrorism” is partly “managed from abroad” but did not elaborate.