Armenian President Armen Sarkissian issued a statement on Tuesday, initiating “political consultations” as the country appeared to be plunged into a political crisis following the announcement of a Russian-brokered deal with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
As quoted by his office, President Sarkissian, who unlike the prime minister has limited powers under Armenia’s constitution, said that he was immediately initiating the consultations “in order to coordinate, within the shortest possible period, solutions arising from our agenda of protecting national interests.”
“I learned from the media that a statement on ending the Nagorno-Karabakh war was signed with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan. It was also from the media that I learned about the conditions for ending the war,” Sarkissian said.
“Unfortunately, there were no consultations or discussions with me, as with the President of the Republic, regarding this document, and I did not participate in any negotiations,” he added.
The president emphasizes that “the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a matter of national importance, and any step, action, decision related to the vital security interests of Armenia, Artsakh [the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh], the entire Armenian nation, moreover, the signing of a document in this respect, should be a subject of comprehensive consultations and discussions.”
“I emphasize that the fate of Artsakh, and consequently of the Armenian people, can be decided only taking into account our national interests and only on the basis of a national consensus.
“Taking into account the deep concerns of the large mass of the people conditioned by the current situation, I immediately initiate political consultations in order to coordinate solutions, within the shortest possible period, arising from our agenda of protecting national interests,” he said.
“As the President of the Republic, at this crucial moment of national preservation, I consider the formation of national unity to be my current mission. I hope that within ten days we will all be able to build such a unity under which I will consider that I have used the opportunities to serve my homeland,” the Armenian president concluded.
Riots began in Armenia early on November 10 upon the news that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian signed a Russian-brokered agreement with Azerbaijan, putting an end to more than six weeks of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The country was plunged into a political turmoil after opposition groups called on Pashinian to resign. This was followed by a night of unrest leaving government buildings ransacked.
In chaotic scenes in the capital, hundreds of opposition supporters in the early hours of November 10 stormed the government headquarters and parliament in Yerevan, ransacking offices and smashing windows in an outburst of anger.
Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan was injured in a mob attack and hospitalized, drawing a sharp rebuke from the government.
The backlash over the agreement signed by Pashinian came after 17 opposition parties issued a joint statement on November 9 calling for the prime minister’s resignation amid a series of military defeats suffered by Armenia-backed ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting against Azerbaijan.
Among the parties that signed the statement were the main parliamentary opposition party, Prosperous Armenia, led by tycoon Gagik Tsarukian, the former ruling Republican Party of former President Serzh Sarkisian, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), and the Hayrenik (Homeland) party led by former director of the National Security Service Artur Vanetsian, who was relieved of his duties in 2019 over differences with Pashinian.
In his comments following the night of chaos, Pashinian implied that corruption in previous governments was also to blame for the current situation.
Meanwhile, Armenia’s Defense Ministry and the General Staff of the Armed Forces issued a statement, calling on all to refrain from actions that could “undermine the foundations of [Armenia’s] statehood.”