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May 5-12

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Nikol Pashinyan Becomes Prime Minister of Armenia

Bloomberg writes, that “Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was elected prime minister by the country’s parliament, completing a remarkable rise to power backed by massive street protests that he’s termed a “velvet revolution.”

Lawmakers voted by 59 to 42 on Tuesday to name Pashinyan as premier, a week after the ruling Republican Party, which holds a majority of seats, had refused to back his candidacy. This time, 13 Republicans voted with minority parties in favor of Pashinyan, who led the protests that ousted Armenia’s longtime ruler Serzh Sargsyan.”

The Guardian in their article about the situation in Armenia, write the following: “In an interview with the Guardian during the protests, Pashinyan said dark political forces had been trying to derail Armenia’s peaceful revolution. His aides said Karen Karapetyan, the prime minister from September 2016 until last month, and who is close to Russia, had sought backroom deals to derail a vote last week for Pashinyan to become PM, which he lost.

“Some forces are trying to engage us into political bargaining and propose me to become prime minister but ensure and guarantee the continuation of the existing system,” Pashinyan said. “And for me, my goal isn’t to become prime minister. My goal is bring real changes to Armenia.”

The newspaper, writing that “there is a touch of populist in Pashinyan”, quotes Ararat Mirzoyan, a fellow member of Civil Contract, who was arrested with Pashinyan last month: “He is not a populist. He is popular.”

In his article for the New York Times Neil MacFarquhar, writing about his encounter with Nikol Pashinyan and his biography, says that “velvet revolution” was “the most sweeping change in this small, landlocked country of about 2.8 million people in the southern Caucasus since it declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.” He further continues: “If many Armenians find it nothing short of miraculous that their country seems transformed overnight, Mr. Pashinyan described it as the culmination of a journey that began some 20 years ago.”

Sepaking about the bloody clashes that resulted in the deaths of 10 people in 2008 and being on the lam for 16 months and the following arrest in 2009, Pashinyan said: “I am proud that I experienced it and was able to stay true to myself in that strange environment under all different kinds of pressure.” 

Pashinyan also spoke about the preparation of the protests: “I understood that the best way to prevent violence is to be nonviolent,” he said. The author writes, that “drawing inspiration from Nelson Mandela and from Gandhi’s famous 1930 walk across India to protest British taxation, Mr. Pashinyan decided to walk around 120 miles across Armenia from Gyumri, the second-largest city, to Yerevan.”

In his concluding remarks, MacFarquhar writes, that Nikol Pashinyan “brushes aside fears that he has set expectations so high that he is bound to disappoint.”

“I am in a working mood, there is no sense of euphoria, just work to do,” Mr. Pashinyan said. “If we were able to do the impossible, that means we will be able to do the difficult.”


Prepared by Marina Muradyan

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The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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