Thousands of people rallied in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, on Friday (17 August) in support of Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan at an event marking his 100 days in power. The rally was seen as a test of Pashinyan's popularity as he takes Armenia out of decades of political and economic slumber.
Addressing participants at the rally Pashinyan once more emphasised the importance of the people's support as he pushes through key reforms and changes. Speaking about early elections which are expected, Pashinyan said that constitutional changes will be necessary to allow them to be held without the government having to resign to trigger the process.
Pashinyan addressed issues related to Armenia's foreign policy. He said he wanted a qualitative improvement in the relations with Russia and to improve relations with the EU. To those who are saying Armenia is going to the west, Pashinyan said, "Armenia is going nowhere. It is just standing on its feet".The prime minister said that during his 100 days in office he met the Russian President Vladimir Putin twice, and spoke with him by phone three times.
"I can say with confidence that our relations with Russia are very good and will become even better. There will be no foreign policy shifts and one of our goals is the deepening of the Armenian-Russian relations and raising these relations to a new level. After formal procedures are over you will get to know about a joint Armenian-Russian humanitarian project which is unprecedented in our history of independence", Pashinyan said. Armenian-Russian relations will gradually improve further and one of the goals of the Government of Armenia is to deepen the Armenian-Russian relations and to raise it to a new level," Nikol Pashinyan said.
Addressing the Karabakh issue, Nikol Pashinyan attacked his critics for accusing him of wanting to sell-out on Karabakh.
"We, the whole nation, are ready to give an answer to any provocation of Azerbaijan. We do not want war. We are ready for peaceful negotiations and settlement. Our critics do not understand that the issue of Karabakh should be resolved not by the government, but by the people", he said. "Even if in the negotiation process there is an option that I consider is a good one and can support, I will never sign any document without your consent. I will present it to you in detail, and you will decide if we will accept that option of settlement or not", Pashinyan said.
Prime Minister Pashinyan added that he is not happy with Armenia's economic model. "We will replace the current model with an inclusive economic model. This means that all the citizens of Armenia will have equal opportunities to do business. In autumn 2017, when I was still an opposition figure, I announced that 40 minutes are necessary to eliminate the monopolies of sugar and banana. After becoming Prime Minister it took me 40 minutes to eliminate the monopolies of sugar and banana. Today there is only one monopoly, the monopoly of power, the owner of which are the citizens of the Republic of Armenia", the prime minister said.
source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: Thousands rally in Yerevan in support of Nikol Pashinyamn's government on 17 August 2018 (picture courtesy of Horizon Armenian TV)
Bakhtadze later tweeted that talks centred on Georgia's new wave of reforms and the EU's continued support for Georgia's European path.