The Hayastan and Pativ Unem factions affiliated with former presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian, respectively, said they ended their boycott to further “the agenda of vital concern” to the people of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
“We are here, and you have to reckon with this fact,” said Aghvan Vardanian, a member of the Hayastan faction, at the beginning of a regular four-day session.
“This is the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, and the National Assembly of the citizens who sent us here. It is not your property,” added Vardanian, addressing his words to the parliament majority represented by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party.
Addressing the citizens, the opposition lawmaker stressed that the opposition boycotted parliament sessions “because we were fighting in the streets against the destructive policy of this government.”
He said that the opposition will fully use its parliamentary instruments while there was “a temporary pause in street protests.”
“In these difficult times for the Armenian people, this government is a threat to the statehood and national identity of Armenia. With this government in power, Armenia and Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] have no future, our people have no future, we are here not to allow the destructive process to become irreversible,” Vardanian concluded.
Pativ Unem lawmaker Taguhi Tovmasian said on Friday that the faction would return to parliament, but would use “other forms of struggle in the street against the Pashinian government to keep its continuity.” She said they would continue to use all tools at their disposal to seek the current government’s ouster.
The two opposition factions began their political boycott of parliament sessions in April after Prime Minister Pashinian’s statement about the purported expectation of the international community that Armenia should “lower the bar” in regards to the status of Nagorno-Karabakh in peace talks with Azerbaijan.
They scaled back the protests six week later after failing to unseat the prime minister.
Pashinian and his political allies dismissed the demands for his resignation, saying that the opposition has failed to attract popular support for regime change.
Citing chronic absenteeism of opposition lawmakers, the majority ousted several of them from leadership positions in parliament committees, while Hayastan’s Ishkhan Saghatelian was dismissed from his post of deputy speaker.
The pro-government Civil Contract faction also threatened to strip all “chronically absent” lawmakers of their mandates, but eventually did not act upon its threats.
An opposition movement supported by the Hayastan and Pativ Unem blocs held its latest rally on November 5. It said the rally was a manifestation of support for the demand of Karabakh Armenians that the Armenian government must not unequivocally recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity through a bilateral peace treaty.
The Pashinian government dismisses accusations that it is negotiating any peace deal that will disregard the rights and freedoms of ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh.