“We did not give up”: Armenian opposition changes its tactics after over a month of protests
Armenian opposition changes tactics of political struggle
“The movement started by the Armenian opposition has become a [significant] factor for the international community, they no longer think they can do whatever they want with Armenia“. This statement was made by Ishkhan Saghatelyan, one of the leaders of the Resistance movement.
The Armenian parliamentary opposition began large-scale protests at the end of April. Their demand was the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. According to opposition representatives, the government led by Pashinyan intends to “make Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.” Opposition deputies cite the statement of the Prime Minister of Armenia that “the international community expects Armenia to lower the bar on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh”.
France Square, where the opposition set up tents and blocked traffic, reopened on June 15. According to Saghatelyan, the tents have been removed, but this does not mean the end of the movement or a pause, but a change of tactics. The opposition intends to expand the range of its actions, create regional structures, involve Nagorno-Karabakh and the diaspora to the protest movement.
The movement is not considering the issue of a candidate for prime minister at the moment. The oppositionists say they will discuss this issue after the resignation of the current government.
- PM Pashinyan: “Any alternative to peace will be disastrous – both for NK and Armenia”
- “Peace, strengthening army or poverty” – what worries Armenians?
- Armenian Defense Minister: ‘No danger’ of new war with Azerbaijan
On Pashinyan’s latest statement
Referring to the prime minister’s latest speech, Saghatelyan said that Pashinyan had effectively lost his only trump card, the “peace agenda” promoted by his government.
“According to the negotiation logic we inherited, Nagorno-Karabakh could not obtain a status outside of Azerbaijan without the consent of Azerbaijan. This legacy was the basis and cause of the war”, the Prime Minister of Armenia said on June 15.
Pashinyan said that the only guarantee of the security of the state was a comprehensive peace, hence the peace agenda: “Any alternative would be disastrous not only for Nagorno-Karabakh, but also for Armenia. We can’t let that happen”.
“If there are no guarantees in terms of security, no guarantees in terms of peace, what will he do? It is obvious that Nikol and Aliyev have a schedule, an agreement on the transfer of the country”, said Ishkhan Saghatelyan.
According to him, as a result of opposition protests, this schedule was disrupted, but the process did not stop.
“If there is a sane person who thinks that it will be possible to ensure the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, being part of Azerbaijan, then he is either a traitor or has no idea about the situation”, Saghatelyan said.
About the achievements and shortcomings of the movement
According to the oppositionist, the main issue – the removal of Nikol Pashinyan from power – remains unresolved, but over these months the movement has serious achievements.
According to him, before the street struggle, only “the voice of defeat and compromise” was heard from Armenia, which was also noticed by the international community:
“The Armenian people have shown that the current government does not have a mandate for new concessions”.
Saghatelyan assured that the opposition’s approach was heard by the international community. The oppositionist called this circumstance a historical achievement:
“No matter how much [the authorities] try not to ignore it, this movement is talked about at the highest level. They no longer think they can do whatever they want with Armenia”.
According to the leader of the movement, Azerbaijan is also following the developments in Armenia.
“Azerbaijan’s daily worries and statements are the result of this movement, because Aliyev is well aware that when he loses his partner in Armenia, his plans will remain unfinished”, he said.
Saghatelyan also spoke about the omissions of the movement, emphasizing that they failed to achieve a higher level of organization, and therefore failed to form a “regular civilian army” from the protesters. According to him, such an army could bring acts of disobedience to such a level that the government could not withstand this onslaught and filed a resignation.
“We have a plan to expand”
According to Saghatelyan, the liquidation of the protest camp in France Square does not mean that the movement has retreated from its goals. He says the tents have already done their job, and the forces of citizens are needed elsewhere. Where exactly, the oppositionist did not specify.
“All the talk about the break, about the retreat is just talk. Our plan is not to take a break, but to expand areas of activity. The work is in full swing”, he said.
To increase the effectiveness of the struggle, the opposition intends to change the structure and tactics of the movement. In order to “achieve the final victory”, they consider it necessary to involve the inhabitants of the regions of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and the foreign Armenian diaspora in the movement.
Saghatelyan said that the struggle to achieve the main goal, that is, the resignation of Prime Minister Pashinyan, will begin in August.
According to him, first it is necessary to create political and legal grounds for the resignation, and then nominate a new candidate for the post of prime minister.
The vice-speaker of the parliament confirmed that the opposition deputies would return to the National Assembly, but only with their own agenda. The oppositionists do not intend to give up their mandates, since, according to Saghatelyan, they will still be needed to consolidate their final victory in parliament.
About the probability of success
The success of the movement depends on all the citizens involved, the defeat will also depend on the people, the leader of the opposition movement believes.
However, the plans of the opposition are not limited to the change of power. According to Saghatelyan, their goals should become the main tasks of the next government.
“The goal of our movement is to prevent the deportation of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, the Turkification of Armenia and threats to the sovereignty of Armenia. This agenda should be implemented after the change of power”, said Ishkhan Saghatelyan.
About former presidents
The oppositionist said that there are regular discussions between the members of the movement and former presidents Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan. According to him, the goal of the presidents is to get the country out of the current situation, and not to return to power.
The leaders of the two parliamentary factions that took to the streets and demanded the resignation of the current prime minister are representatives of the former government, former Armenian presidents Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan.