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Pashinian Defends Track Record


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian visits Gegharkunik province, May 9, 2021.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian defended his track record on Monday, saying that his administration has achieved the key aim of the “velvet revolution” that brought him to power three years ago.

“I regard what I just said as our biggest achievement: the citizens of the Republic of Armenia feel that they are the masters of our country. At the end of the day, this is what the nonviolent, velvet, popular revolution of 2018 was done for and that goal has been achieved,” he said, speaking in the parliament.

Pashinian claimed to have carried out important “institutional reforms,” seriously reduced tax evasion and made “revolutionary changes” in the country’s prison system. He also insisted that the current Armenian government does not control the judiciary unlike the previous ones.

Pashinian described the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh as the “biggest problem” of his three-year tenure. He claimed that the war was already inevitable when he swept to power, implicitly accusing Armenia’s former leaders of mishandling the Karabakh peace process.

The 45-year-old former journalists similarly blamed former Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian for Azerbaijan’s victory in the six-week war when he addressed the National Assembly last month.

Sarkisian and Kocharian had led Karabakh during its successful 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan. Like virtually all Armenian opposition leaders, the ex-presidents hold Pashinian responsible for the outcome of the second war stopped by a Russian-mediated truce accord last November.

Another former president, Levon Ter-Petrosian, charged last week that Pashinian and his political team have “failed in all areas.”

Pashinian scoffed at such claims. “We take many things for granted,” he said. “After that catastrophe [of November 2020] not a single gunshot has been fired in Armenia. Do you realize what this means? Could this have happened under a government that has failed in all areas of governance?”

The prime minister also said that unlike their predecessors he and other senior Armenian officials have not enriched themselves by sharing in the profits of lucrative businesses.

Taguhi Tovmasian, an independent lawmaker who left the ruling My Step bloc in November, countered that none of the country’s former rulers has been convicted or even accused of such corrupt practices under the current authorities.

“Who and how has benefited from whose business?” Tovmasian asked. “And how have they been punished in the post-revolution Armenia for the sake of restoring justice?”

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