Armenia’s main opposition groups will rally supporters in Yerevan on Saturday for the first time in two months to try to keep Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian from making major concessions to Azerbaijan.
One of their leaders, Ishkhan Saghatelian, said the demonstration is meant to demonstrate that Pashinian’s administration “does not express the will of the Armenian people” and has no mandate to sign far-reaching agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh. He again accused it of planning to help Baku regain full control of Karabakh.
“The overwhelming majority of our people are against Artsakh being a part of Azerbaijan,” Saghatelian told a news conference.
The opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem blocs began daily protests in Yerevan on May 1 two weeks after Pashinian signaled his readiness to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and “lower the bar” on Karabakh’s status acceptable to the Armenian side.
They scaled back the protests six week later after failing to unseat the prime minister. Saghatelian cited at the time the need to “change the structure and tactic of our resistance movement.”
Pashinian and his political allies dismissed the demands for his resignation, saying the opposition has failed to attract popular support for regime change.
Opposition leaders announced another change of tactics at their last rally held on September 2. They did not organize further street protests in the following weeks.
Saghatelian said on Monday that the opposition has been inspired by Sunday’s massive demonstration in Stepanakert against attempts to restore Azerbaijani rule in Karabakh. Its organizers and participants thus sent a “clear message” to Armenia, he said.
“The ball is now in Armenia’s court,” added the outspoken oppositionist.
Karabakh Armenian leaders on Sunday again warned the Armenian government against unequivocally recognizing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity through a bilateral peace treaty that has been discussed by Yerevan and Baku in recent weeks. They earlier voiced support for Russian peace proposals which they say are far more beneficial for the Armenian side than a deal advanced by the West.
Pashinian insisted at the weekend that he agreed to the Russian plan in early September and is ready to sign a relevant agreement with Azerbaijan.
Saghatelian dismissed those assurances, saying that Pashinian is using his “provincial dexterity” to mislead the domestic public and foreign powers.
“His claims that he is in favor of the Russian proposals will have no value until he makes it clear that he rejects the other variant [of the peace deal with Azerbaijan,]” he said.