Earlier today, Al Jazeera released the first sit-down interview in English with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on its “Talk to Al Jazeera” program.
The interview, conducted by Robin Forestier-Walker, covered a number of issues facing the 43-year-old statesman, notably the immense expectations that await he and his cabinet following their successful peaceful revolution (“How are you going to deliver these to a public that is hungry for change, and based on history, there isn’t an awful lot of patience after revolutions?”) in the face of of his cabinet’s relative inexperience and Armenia’s geopolitical realities.
Pashinyan emphasized what he considered to be the most critical transformation that has already taken place: a shift in civic participation. “We made our citizens believe that their position, their voice is the most important factor in our political and social life.” He also cited his experience in journalism, reporting on, observing, and most importantly, critiquing Armenia’s political and military experiences, which has functioned as a “university,” preparing him, he said, for the role of prime minister.
When asked about Armenia’s political and economic dependence on Russia, Pashinyan said, “You know, the situation is that many countries all around the world have tools to influence other countries. If we want to say… there is no absolute independence for any country.” He also expressed optimism regarding the geopolitics of the region, stating that he is sure Armenia will overcome this “difficult situation,” and demonstrated eagerness to reach a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through negotiations.
Touching on the recent aggressive comments made by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Pashinyan suggested it may be the case that Azerbaijani officials are feeling threatened: “I think that Ilham Aliyev has some fears that Azerbaijani people could be inspired by our revolution and try to create similar changes in Azerbaijan. I think the increase of aggressive rhetoric is connected with this situation… and I’m sure the Azerbaijani government is trying to distract its own people from their domestic problems to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. So that’s why I’m saying that any aggressive move against Armenia is a move against democracy in our region.”