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Pashinian Coy About Snap Elections


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian is interviewed by RFERL, Yerevan, December 16, 2020

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Wednesday that he cannot single-handedly call fresh parliamentary elections in Armenia following the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Pashinian also said that he is not primarily to blame for the Armenian side’s defeat in the six-week war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10.

The defeat sparked ongoing opposition protests and calls for his resignation and the formation of an interim government that would hold snap elections within a year. The prime minister has rejected those demands.

“The question is not whether or not the prime minister must resign,” Pashinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “The question is who decides who must be Armenia’s prime minister. The people must decide.”

“Pre-term elections cannot be held only by my will and decision. There has to be an agreement on that,” he added without elaborating.

Some representatives of Pashinian’s My Step bloc have indicated that the authorities are ready to discuss the possibility of such polls with the Armenian opposition. Most opposition groups want the ruling political team to hand over power to a transitional government.

A coalition of more than a dozen opposition parties plans to continue its street protests in Yerevan in a bid to force Pashinian to resign. It holds him responsible for Azerbaijan’s victory and says he is not capable of confronting new security challenges facing Armenia and Karabakh.

“I consider myself the number one person responsible [for the defeat] but I don’t consider myself the number one guilty person,” Pashinian said in this regard.

The embattled premier also dismissed critics’ claims that he precipitated the six-week war with a reckless policy on the Karabakh conflict.

“The only way to avoid the war was to give up [a peace deal on] Karabakh’s future status,” he said. “The situation reached a point where the war was inevitable. We analyzed [the situation] and found that it is possible not to be defeated, and if is possible not to be defeated we must not surrender.”

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