Armenian revolutionary leader holds 4-hour press conference
Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a press conference in Yerevan today that lasted for four hours.
Where did Pashinyan begin?
Nikol Pashinyan began the press conference by stating that his government had fulfilled all the obligations made before the people, referring to promises made during the revolution.
“We said that we would realise the desire for a change of power, and without violence. We said that we will conduct an uncompromising fight against corruption. Today this commitment has been fulfilled: the struggle was waged on the largest of scales. We said we will hold snap parliamentary elections, and with your help on 2 October, surrounding the National Assembly building for several hours, we [achieved this]. Consequently, all the promises that we made at this stage of the revolution have been fulfilled.”
Pashinyan said the most significant achievement of him and his team is the fact that they returned power to the people.
The scandal surrounding the Collective Security Treaty Organization
The first questions journalists asked him concerned the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Pashinyan recently said that he is concerned by the behavior of the heads of Kazakhstan and Belarus – Nazarbayev and Lukashenko – and their reaction to the issue of electing a new CSTO secretary general.
“We do not plan to keep silent on issues that relate to the interests of Armenia. We will continue to consistently and fundamentally, including in an atmosphere of partnership, protect the national interests of Armenia.”
The CSTO is an international organization operating under the auspices of Russia. As stated in its Charter, the organization’s goals are strengthening peace, international and regional security and stability, and collectively protecting the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states. The organisation was founded in 1992, immediately after the collapse of the USSR. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan soon left the CSTO. The six remaining members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
The CSTO is an international organization operating under the auspices of Russia. As stated in its Charter, the organization’s goals are strengthening peace, international and regional security and stability, and collectively protecting the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states.
The organisation was founded in 1992, immediately after the collapse of the USSR. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan soon left the CSTO. The six remaining members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
Pashinyan is also unhappy with Belarus selling weapons to Azerbaijan, and noted that Minsk has sold Baku a number of multiple rocket launcher systems.
“Our position is very clear: we condemn such transactions, consider these actions as directed against the national interests of the Republic of Armenia, and we believe that they distort the essence of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.”
Pashinyan pointed out that members of the military bloc must understand their obligations to each other, and noted that the Armenian authorities are trying to breathe new life into their membership in the organization:
“We fully comply with our obligations, which, unfortunately, cannot be said about some of our partners.”
In response to a question concerning Russia’s position on the current issue, Pashinyan answered succinctly:
“I consider the position of Russia in this issue to be strictly constructive.”
Armenia’s position on Iran will not change
Pashinyan also commented on the US imposing sanctions on Iran. He noted that in this regard, Armenian-Iranian relations will not change:
“We are neighbors, and should not only maintain a good level of relations, but also try to bring them to a new level. For example, what if a company has relationships with American and Iranian companies? [It is as if the] American partner puts [the Armenian company] in the position of having to choose: if you want to continue working with me, then stop cooperating with the Iranian side. This is a private issue.
“And at the government level, our position is known. It is presented, our interests in the Armenian-Iranian and Armenian-Georgian relations are represented. I hope our American partners approach the situation with understanding, since it is very important for us to develop Armenian-American relations at a fast pace.”
Number of ministries to be cut down
As for domestic political issues, Pashinyan noted that the state administrative management still needs to be improved – thus, the number of ministries will decrease.
“The structure of the government as a whole will be greatly changed. Today we have 17 ministers, but after a certain period of time, after the parliamentary elections, we will have a much smaller number of ministers. Thus, changes in the functions of ministers will also occur, because the scope of their responsibilities will expand.”
Large amounts of money returned to state treasury
Nikol Pashinyan said that about 10 billion drams ($20 million) had been returned to the state treasury as a result of anti-corruption efforts. Criminal proceedings were launched in cases for tax evasion for millions of dollars.
“Does it all end here? No. Why not? Because the possibilities of the investigating authorities are to a certain extent limited. They work tirelessly. When these investigations end, others will begin.”