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Ruling Bloc, Opposition Party Agree To Crisis Talks


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (R) meets with Bright Armenia Party leader Edmon Marukian, March 4, 2021.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s political team and one of the two opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament on Thursday agreed to take part in talks proposed by President Armen Sarkissian.

Other, more hardline opposition groups set conditions for negotiating with Pashinian with the aim of ending the political crisis in the country.

Sarkissian on Wednesday invited Pashinian and opposition leaders to meet at the presidential palace on Saturday and try to find “mutually acceptable ways of overcoming the crisis.” He said he expects them to respond to his offer by Thursday evening.

“I have informed the president’s staff today that we accept the president’s invitation and are going to participate in the meeting initiated by the president,” said Lilit Makunts, the parliamentary leader of Pashinian’s My Step bloc.

“We accept the invitation and stand ready to take part in any discussion in which … ways of getting the country out of the deep crisis could be found,” Edmon Marukian, the leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party (LHK), wrote on Facebook.

“The president’s invitation means one thing: to sit down and discuss the situation,” said another senior LHK figure, Ani Samsonian. “It’s a very constructive initiative.”

Unlike the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the other parliamentary opposition force, the LHK is not part of the Homeland Salvation Movement alliance, which has been holding anti-government protests in Yerevan in a bid to force Pashinian to resign.

Armenia -- Supporters of the opposition Homeland Salvation Movement demonstrate in Yerevan to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's resignation, February 20, 2021.
Armenia -- Supporters of the opposition Homeland Salvation Movement demonstrate in Yerevan to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's resignation, February 20, 2021.

In a statement issued late on Thursday, the leadership of the alliance said the talks must be held in the parliament, broadcast live and focus on Pashinian’s resignation and formation of an interim government.

Shortly before the opposition statement, Sarkissian’s office said that since “not all of the invitees” have responded to his invitation so far it will make a statement about “the format of the meeting” later on.

Sarkissian offered to host multi-party talks one day after paving the way for the sacking of Onik Gasparian, Armenia’s top army general who has demanded, along with 40 other high-ranking officers, Pashinian’s resignation. The president pointedly declined to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality on Pashinian’s decision to fire Gasparian.

The Homeland Salvation Movement reacted furiously to Sarkissian’s stance, accusing him of acting on the embattled prime minister’s orders.

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