Armenia’s leading opposition forces drafted the parliamentary resolution last week as they continued daily demonstrations in Yerevan demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation. They will try to push it through the National Assembly at an emergency session scheduled for Friday.
Simonian confirmed that the parliament’s pro-government majority will thwart the session by boycotting it.
Like other Pashinian allies, Simonian accused the opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem blocs of exploiting the Karabakh conflict for political purposes. He also said that the draft resolution is aimed at reinvigorating what he described as a failed opposition campaign for Pashinian’s resignation.
“That [opposition] initiative is yet another attempt to find some way out of the situation,” Simonian told journalists.
The speaker, who is a senior member of Civil Contract, insisted that Pashinian’s government will not cut any peace deals with Azerbaijan that will “not take into account the opinion of Artsakh and Armenia’s citizens.” But he stopped short of ruling out Yerevan’s recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.
“They are afraid of doing that because they have given [Azerbaijani President Ilham] Aliyev promises,” said Ishkhan Saghatelian, an opposition leader and parliament vice-speaker. “They are afraid because one and a half years after the war [in Karabakh] they have increased only the number of police and interior troops, while the army has been downsized.”
The opposition accused Pashinian of planning to place Karabakh back under Azerbaijani rule when it launched the street protests in Yerevan on May 1.
The parliamentary resolution proposed by it not only rejects such an option but also says Pashinian’s government cannot make any territorial concessions to Azerbaijan as a result of a planned demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. It further says that the demarcation process must start only after Baku frees all Armenian prisoners and withdraws Azerbaijani troops from Armenian border areas occupied last year.
The protests continued on Tuesday, with hundreds of people led by Saghatelian and other opposition lawmakers marching to a government building that houses three Armenian ministries. The lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to meet with the ministers of foreign affairs, education and justice and hear their opinion about Karabakh’s status. They did not attempt to force their way into the building heavily guarded by riot police.
The oppositionists’ attempt to break through a similar police cordon on Monday triggered clashes between their supporters and security forces outside the common building of four other government ministries. More than a hundred protesters were detained as a result.
Nine of them remained under arrest on Tuesday. Law-enforcement authorities said they could be prosecuted for participating in “mass disturbances.”
Saghatelian claimed that the authorities are “fabricating” such criminal cases in a bid to suppress the opposition movement. “In this way they are trying to isolate participants of the movement and intimidate other citizens,” he said.