Political Dialogue in Armenia Breaks Down

Political Dialogue in Armenia Breaks Down Political Dialogue in Armenia Breaks Down

Talks between Armenia’s prime minister and an opposition leader aimed at ending anti-government protests have broken down.

Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan walked out of a televised meeting with Nikol Pashinyan in the capital, denouncing the opposition’s “blackmail”, BBC reported.

There are reports that Pashinyan was later detained, amid clashes between his supporters and riot police.

The opposition leader wants Sargsyan to resign over a constitutional change he says is an effort to retain power.

The change transferred significant power to the prime minister, a role Sargsyan only took on last week. He stepped down as president after reaching his two-term limit.

On Saturday, after days of protests, Pashinyan told thousands of opposition supporters in the capital Yerevan that Sargsyan did not understand the “new reality” in Armenia.

He said he was prepared to discuss only the details of a transfer of power. The country’s new president then suggested that the two men should hold talks.

But the televised meeting at a hotel in Yerevan on Sunday was brief. Pashinyan told the prime minister, “I came here to discuss your resignation.”

In response, Sargsyan said that “this is not a dialogue, this is blackmail” and walked out.

Many Armenians want to see genuine change in their country but they feel that they are being deprived of that opportunity because the leadership remains the same.

  Velvet Revolution

Pashinyan recently described the action he leads as a “velvet revolution”, referring to the peaceful protests in 1989 that ended communist rule in Czechoslovakia (which later split into two states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia).

The veteran opposition activist, who was jailed over his part in violent protests against Sargsyan in 2008, called on supporters to “paralyze the entire state system” because “power should pass to the people”.

While president, Serzh Sargsyan said he had no intention of becoming prime minister at the end of his second five-year term. However, on Tuesday he was chosen by parliament to serve as prime minister.

In 2008, when Sargsyan was first elected president, demonstrations erupted, with protesters alleging vote-rigging. At least eight people died in clashes with the authorities.

Caption: Police block demonstrators gathered to protest the former president’s shift into the prime minister’s seat in Yerevan, Armenia, on April 21.


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