Pashinyan Ignores Ultimatum, Refuses to Resign

December 8, 2020 (Photo: Krikor Sahagian)

Protesters took to the streets of Yerevan after an ultimatum demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan by noon on Tuesday, December 8 expired without any reaction from the PM. 

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Since the PM’s signature of a trilateral ceasefire agreement on November 9 codifying Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 Artsakh War, a coalition of opposition political parties, including the Republican Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), has been organizing protests for his removal. Eight minutes after the imposed deadline on December 8, ARF representative Ishkhan Saghatelyan declared that the citizens of Armenia have the legitimate right to engage in acts of civil disobedience in order to share their grievances. In the following hours, protesters attempted to block traffic and succeeded in shutting down Yerevan’s subway system. Twelve protesters were detained by the police, including Yerkir Media director Gegham Manukyan, who recently ended a nine-day hunger strike. 

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The unmet ultimatum was initially posed at a demonstration on December 5, the largest since the end of the war. “The sheer size of the protest was promising. There was a large number of youth participants, as well as people from different cities,” recalled ARF-Eastern Region Central Committee member Sebouh Hatsakordzian. “This gave me hope and encouragement to fulfill our demands,” he continued.

The keynote speaker at the rally was Vazgen Manukyanthe coalition’s pick to replace PM Pashinyan. Manukyan, 74, served as Armenia’s Prime Minister between 1990 and 1991 and Defense Minister from 1992 to 1993. “We could have avoided the war. We could have won the war. We could have ended the war earlier with a low number of casualties. None of that happened,” he stated during his speech. While Manukyan does not intend to renounce the ceasefire agreement, he hopes to implement necessary changes to overcome the security risks that the opposition blames on Pashinyan’s foreign policy failures, particularly the disintegration of Armenia’s relations with its traditional allies, including Russia. “Forces with foreign influence are currently at work in Armenia, which are deliberately dividing our people,” he proclaimed. “For two and a half years they have been resolving their geopolitical issues through our people, using us as a toy. That field must be cleared.”  

The creation of a “National Movement for the Salvation of the Homeland” was also announced with the primary goals of removing the current administration from power through snap elections and establishing a transitional government led by Manukyan to lead the postwar recovery.

During a live Facebook address hours before the December 5 rally, the Prime Minister reiterated his firm stance that he would not resign. He blamed Armenia’s diplomatic and military failures on the previous administrations, proclaiming that his administration was unable to undo the consequences of 25 years of widespread corruption in two and a half years. “Why didn’t you purchase [military equipment] during the previous 18 to 20 years?” he asked, addressing the former political leadership. “How is it that you considered building castles, purchasing islands, buying private homes in Europe and accumulating millions in Swiss banks more important than purchasing in 20 years all that we did not in two?” 

Pashinyan and his predecessors have been leveling accusations at one another of pursuing ruinous diplomatic strategies, deflecting blame for defeat in the war in Artsakh. Previous President Robert Kocharyan, who has declared his support of the “National Movement for the Salvation of the Homeland,” asserted during an interview on December 4 that Pashinyan’s administration thwarted the negotiation process by adopting a hardline stance through reckless and careless statements, such as his forceful appeal in August of 2019 for the reunification of Armenia and Artsakh.

In response, Pashinyan said that the process of turning the Artsakh conflict into a territorial dispute and Armenia into an occupying power in the public perception had been realized over the past two decades. “We have not failed in diplomacy. Rather our efforts to overcome the burden of the diplomatic failures of the past 20 to 25 years have failed,” he said during his live Facebook address. “We have failed to avoid the consequences of your failures.” 

Several other public figures have also called for the PM’s resignation. Former President Levon Ter Petrosyan issued a call to the people to pursue Pashinyan’s imminent removal by “exclusively constitutional means” rather than through “civil conflict,” warning of the dangers of civil war posed by the the “mass provocations which are being inflamed by both the administration and the opposition.” Catholicos Karekin II met with the PM on December 8 and entreated him to resign in order to prevent any “shocks to public life” and “possible clashes and tragic turns.” In his televised message from Lebanon, Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia described the homeland as a “lifeless ship plunged into a terrible storm.” “The unity of our people is more than imperative. We must stay away from approaches and actions that provoke polarization, create divisions and sow the spirit of intolerance,” cautioned the spiritual leader in his respective calls for Pashinyan’s resignation. Meanwhile, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, who has been vocal in his support for the creation of an interim government of national accord, met with former leader Serzh Sargsyan on December 8 to discuss the current situation in the country. 

This meeting happened one day after a recording of a conversation between Sargsyan and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko regarding possibilities for settlement of the Artsakh conflict was leaked. In the recording, Lukashenko can be overheard stating that Azerbaijan is ready to offer $5 billion in exchange for Armenia’s withdrawal from the seven outlying territories of Artsakh. Sargsyan refused the offer and countered that Armenia was prepared to give Azerbaijan $6 billion. Sargsyan’s office confirmed the authenticity of the recording, stating that the dialogue took place on October 14, 2016 during a closed-door meeting among members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Yerevan.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Peace and Conflict Studies and Armenian Language and Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a human rights journalist and feminist poet. Her first poetry collection, Journey to Tatev, will be published with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.

17 Comments

  1. Just unbelievable. Throwing blame at everyone but themselves. The ex thugs that stole elections who robbed everyone and became wealthy and promoted emigration, have nothing good to say and should shut up. They are traitors. Yes they kept the status quo but who cares as they are thieves to all Armenians. Pashinyan is totally clueless and no one takes him seriously. He is in way over his head and a detriment to Armenia’s future at this point. He needs to go. Vasken Manugyan is a Levon Ter Petrosyan left over that is hoping that clinging to Russia for support is the only real plan for the future. So you have to be a Russian lackey to survive and that’s his plan? My God. Is this the best we can do? How sad these useless traitors all are. 17 factions of useless division running in circles for a nation of 3 million? Just unbelievable… All chiefs that have no clue about anything. What a sad state of affairs. I’m ashamed of all of it. We need a real plan: One that basically denounces this loss as temporary and unacceptable as any along term policy. One that unifies all Armenians including the diaspora with a long term plan of liberating and not accepting and sugar coating this tragedy as a new way of life. One that makes security its #1 goal. One that spends all funds from here on out on military advancement. One that indoctrinated diaspora Army units as a regular policy to massively increase man power. One that welcomes immigration and participation of all Armenians form all over the world. Nothing any of the current and past losers want.

  2. he’s gonna give up Zangezeur now to punish protesters. It’s obvious he was sent to destroy Armenia

    He’s gonna grow bolder now that he showed the opposition to be impotent

    Only solution – “nicolas ceaucescu”

  3. Armenia is a democracy.

    Replacing Pashinyan should be done democratically if it’s to be done.

    What does a replacement PM have to offer?

    What miracle will he or she bring about and how?

    • Was Pashinyan elected democratically? Just like he cane to power after his so- called “velvet revolution” someone else can replace him in the same way.

    • Like he came to power democratically? Get with the times, “democracy” was the buzzword in the 50-90s, the world is through with that. Thanks.

  4. Pointing fingers ,infighting, mudslinging.That is all we have done so well in the past and do so presently.The protesters in Armenia should stay home and think of new ways to replace Pashinian with the kleptocrats of the past so they resume robing the people again.Wake up RAF.

  5. Stop blaming N. Pashinian. Rather blame the unpoliticized and unaware Armenian communities all over the world, lost in internal fights and Turkish negtionnist propaganda. This second war of
    N.Karabakh was brewing after the 1994 cease fire since the cThe only head os State who can deal wqith RT Erdogan.onflict had become
    unnegotiable at all levels. At the same time the Armenian representatives were making
    head way within the international community and forums of a new pro-Western, truly
    democratic Armenian state free of corruption impacted by human rights ideals, institutions and the and freedom of press. The Azeri/Turkish reaction was to rekindle war, launching xenophobia and a haineous language violating once again Armenian legitimate geopolitical rights. Pashinian had no other choice to save lives and stop the killings than plead with Poutine – the only head of state able to deal with RT Erdogan It’s up to Diaspora Armenians to unite and commit themselves – as actors of civil society to focus UN institutions and the whole world on Azeri Turkish collusion to pursue
    the genocide acting upon negationism, destruction and illegal power. NK is – was – never Azeribaidjani territory.Doubled with the fear of the upsurge of Armenian genocide recognition and reparation o
    n claims. truths and proofs again after a century of lies and misinformation. All is clear in UN in UN documents and reports. Armenian diaspora act up. Create NGO’s, tribunals and diffuse correct infos.
    reports and resolutions. Armenian civil society act up -create NGOs, special tribuanals, demonstrate anifest in front of UN and more

  6. It is an easy way out to try to blame others for your mistakes. I blame Pashinyan’s utter incompetence in the political position he is now refusing to renounce.

    Oligarchs buying houses and beaches outside Armenia? You really think they were in a position to prevent the war, Pashinyan? What are you now ready to say to families who lost their beloved friends, husbands, sons, and fathers? Or was it these same oligarchs who sent these fine men to fight for their homeland?

    And the precedent of surrendering Shushi? Do you really think Azeris will stop there now that you showed them such weakness? You underestimated the enemy, now you are underestimating our people. Please listen to our voice.

    I do not know who you really are, but you definitely show cowardice. Please, just accept your personal defeat. You have failed, therefore you must go. Serzh left his post once. So can you. Let the people decide. They chose you. So let them choose again.

  7. Nikol’s mistake (if not a crime) is that he lied to the people by encouraging the prolonged fight knowing for sure that we were losing. Next question is, where was the Armenian president in all of this? Or was he the Armenian Queen of England?

    Why was Pashinyan the sole commander-in-chief and his war decisions uncontested by any advisers or opposition? Talk about democracy that is a phantom concept useful to power thugs.

    This team must leave. I think Robert Kocharyan should be reinstated instead. I heard him talk about how liberalism is destroying the minds of our young people. It divides us and makes us weaker to the enemy. Tomorrow our liberal kids will be the soldiers you see protecting Armenia.

    • Robert Kocharyan is a thief. He liked to control by rigging elections to rob Armenians and that’s why he hates liberalism. Im for freedom and democracies and equality. However the real issue it seems now is Armenia’s security. Instead of going backward to useless old presidents why not try new modern leadership that is 10x politically smarter, that promotes unification towards all Armenians and most of all security focused..

  8. What Azeris and Turks are trying to do now is to convince the world (especially Europeans/Christians) through effective propaganda that we are scum and should be expelled or displaced world over.

    Armenians need to push countermeasures by promoting the truth about what Muslims are capable of given freedom. You see what happened in Chechnya after the French professor was beheaded. Our job is to convince the UN that Azeri and Turkish leaders want us gone. That they will ultimately seize the entire Caucasus region unless Russian or western forces intervene. The Turks want to reincarnate their long lost Ottoman Empire. Their influence will extend to the western front as Erdogan tries to annex the Cyprus. Maybe accelerationism is best to stop them. Let them try and displace the Greeks from that island. Maybe then the world will be convinced of their true intentions.

    In the United States, Trump was proclaimed Hitler numerous times. I think this term is more applicable to Erdogan. Azeris are useful idiots to him, and our people of course suffer the most (as they always did during historic wars in the region).

    It is time to put an end to our people suffering collusions and expansionist policies of our Muslim neighbors. Whether or not Pashinyan is a mole does not matter. He came today, he will be gone tomorrow. The problem we have will persist.

    To counter the advanced weapons acquired throughout the last 25 years by the Azeris, we need to establish rock solid connections to the European world by promoting Christian ideals, which unfortunately today go against liberal movements designed to weaken these foundations.

    In the United States, our people can help bring back the Republican Party in a way that it will not be demonized by the opposition, but will ultimately create a bridge between our cultures. If we play a substantial role in bringing back the structural foundations of the Christian world, the importance of protecting our people will be more apparent to everyone else.

    If Russia weakens itself by the next liberal overtake, at least the western world will be on our side. We cannot unite the main superpowers, but at least we can let other Christian nations know who their real enemy is. As Europe gets more and more hostile to Islam, there can never be a better time for us to act than now.

    Cultural traditions that we keep and pass on to the rest of the Christian world is more powerful than weapons. If we unite as Christians we can save our lands and the Caucasus.

    • “Christian” — the ones that have imported millions of muslims and thereby increasingly become their hostage? One would have hoped that this whole experience was a lesson in understanding christianity isn’t a thing that anyone cares about.

    • Most liberals are educated. True conservatism is pragmatic, compassionate and giving. Today’s ‘Conservatism’ is designed by the wealthiness elites to separate and divide by imposing fear through strict narrative so they and a few alone can control to basically rob and steal the masses, and any counter thought outside of the narrative must be forbidden as uniform mentality and strict loyalty is its number 1 means which must be adhered to at all cost. Its become a cult. I’m for truth, opportunity, equality, compassion, inclusion, freedom and true democracy FOR ALL.

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