Thursday, 10 May 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... Pashinyan wins PM vote

BBC News
8 May 2018
Armenia protest leader Pashinyan wins PM Vote

Supporters of Mr Pashinyan gathered in Republic Square in the centre of Yerevan to await the vote result
Opposition politician Nikol Pashinyan spearheaded weeks of protests in Armenia that brought an end to 10 years of rule by Serzh Sargsyan.

Now he has persuaded a parliament dominated by Mr Sargsyan's own party to back him as prime minister, only a week after he lost an initial vote.

After MPs voted again on Tuesday, thousands of supporters cheered in Republic Square in the capital Yerevan.

Rock star Serj Tankian of the band System of a Down earlier joined crowds.

Mr Pashinyan, who led what has become known as Armenia's "Velvet Revolution", promised MPs that human rights would be protected, and that corruption and election-rigging would end. 

"All people are equal before the law. There will be no people enjoying privileges in Armenia. That's it. Full stop," he said.

Why does this matter?
A landlocked nation of 2.9 million people, Armenia is dependent on Russia for its security and has a Russian military base on its territory.

Armenia's peaceful uprising against single-party rule - and the way its political leaders responded - is seen as unprecedented for a former Soviet state. Russia has not intervened in the recent political events and Mr Pashinyan told MPs that relations with Moscow would be a priority, particularly military co-operation.

Why Armenia's 'Velvet Revolution won without a single bullet being fired

Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately welcomed Mr Pashinyan's success, looking forward to continuing "friendly relations". Armenia is part of Russia's collective security organisation as well as its Eurasian economic union.

Armenia is also involved in a long-lasting conflict with Azerbaijan over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave with an ethnic Armenian majority that lies inside Azerbaijan's borders.

What happens next?
Mr Pashinyan won the vote by 59 votes to 42 and has promised snap elections as soon as he is happy conditions are right for a legitimate vote to take place.
He has said he has no intention to cling to power but he will first have to persuade the same parliament to approve his cabinet.

Party colleagues of Mr Pashinyan spoke in parliament on Tuesday of a "historic day". Lena Nazaryan told MPs that the revolution was a culmination of two decades of despair and struggle. "The police are now free," she said. "School teachers are free, local administrations are free."

Standing beside Mr Pashinyan the night before the vote, Serj Tankian - the lead singer of American-Armenian heavy metal band System of a Down - praised the protesters in Armenian before leading them in a traditional song. His group's songs have been played regularly at rallies since the protests began on 13 April.

How did we get here?
After 10 years in power Mr Sargsyan left Armenia's presidency last month only to be elected prime minister by a parliament controlled by his Republican party. 
Mr Sargsyan's move was seen by critics as a way of clinging to office. Under a 2015 referendum marred by irregularities, Armenia shifted powers from the presidency to parliament.

Mr Pashinyan, who had begun a protest march to Yerevan ahead of the president's switch to prime minster, arrived in the capital to lead daily protests. 

On 22 April he held a brief meeting with Mr Sargsyan but was then detained when the talks collapsed. The following day, he was freed and Mr Sargsyan resigned as prime minister, six days after he had been elected.

On 1 May, a parliament dominated by the ruling Republican party rejected Mr Pashinyan as prime minister, even though he was the only candidate. A general strike across Armenia took place the following day, and eventually Republican MPs agreed they would back him in an 8 May vote., Armenia
May 5 2018
Pashinyan: There are several options of new Armenian Government 
YEREVAN.- There are several options of new Armenian Government, but which of them will be chosen will depend on the concrete political situation, because  the government should reflect the political situation, Armenian opposition movement leader,  candidate for Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan told reporters on Saturday.

Asked if representatives of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) could be part of the new government, Pashinyan replied: "I have already said that if I am elected as a prime minister we will record the political situation and will try to form the Government of concord."

As for the changes in the Electoral Code, the oppositionist said that they have ideas and proposals around which they will hold talks with representatives of the political field.

The second round of the vote for electing a Prime Minister will take place May 8 in the Armenian parliament after lawmakers failed to make the election on May 1. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, head of the Yelk (Exit) faction, was the sole candidate in the election. 

ARKA, Armenia
May 5 2018
New Armenian government to face serious challenges

The new interim government of Armenia will have to face a difficult legacy and solve the problems left by the previous authorities, economist Atom Markaryan said on Saturday.

"The new government will have to shoulder a heavy burden of responsibility and solve a number of problems that can be considered a heavy legacy from the previous administration. One of the main problems facing the new government is the problem of public debt, which over the past year and a half has grown by almost one billion dollars,‘said Markaryan.

However, he also stressed that due to the high international image that the new government will have, part of the debt may be possible to restructure.

"The new government, with incomparably higher legitimacy, can enjoy  good image among international donors, creditors, investors, and the international community as a whole," said Markaryan.

According to the National Statistical Service, Armenia's aggregate state debt at the end of 2017 stood at $6.774.6 billion, an increase of 14% or $832.5 million compared to the end of 2016. At the same time, the external state debt at the end of 2017 was $5.494.9 billion, an increase of 14.3% or $689.3 million from the previous year., Armenia
May 7 2018
Armenian President: I will work with Nikol Pashinyan if he is elected as PM 
YEREVAN.- Armenian President Armen Sarkissian stated that he will work with Nikol Pashinyan if he is elected as Armenia's PM, Sarkissian said in an interview with "Echo of Moscow".

"He is a young, really talented person ... But this is one quality. Only time will tell what kind of prime minister he will be," Sarkissian said, adding that if Pashinyan wants he can give him advice and can show that the priority is law, legality and constitution. 

Speaking about prospects of Pashinyan's election as the prime minister on May 8, Sarkissian noted that it is difficult to do forecasts as "we're all people" and "all is in God's hands."

However, he noted that he will elect the country's new prime minister on May 8.

"And the new government will face the realities of life on the first day. It's one thing to point out mistakes, shortcomings and problems, it's another matter when they are given the opportunity to solve them. It is always easier to specify than to work structurally," the President said.

Sarkissian noted that he does not want to foresee Pashinyan's economic policy but he is sure that this will not affect the Armenian-Russian relations, because Russia and Armenia are connected by deep relations.

ARKA, Armenia
May 7 2018
Armenian opposition leader vows not to have oligarchs in his government

Armenian opposition leader, Nikol Pashinyan, set to become the country’s next prime minister, said today he would not have oligarchs in the new government.

"If I am elected prime minister tomorrow (on May 8), I can assure that there will be no businessmen and oligarchs in the new government,» Pashinyan told journalists after consultations with the head of the parliamentary faction of the Republican Party of Armenia  Vahram Baghdasaryan.

As for the composition of the new government, he said discussions will be held with parliament-represented forces, and most likely also with the Republican Party of Armenia. He said the ‘collective ‘face of the government should reflect the spirit that is present in Armenia today.

He also said in his speech to parliament tomorrow he will present the basic rules of the game, which "will be simple and clear to all – everything must be done within the law."

He noted that his government’s plan of actions will be discussed with the Republican Party of Armenia and that he expects an agreement to be reached by the sides that the voting on it  is not be failed.

As for the calls for the resignation of the mayor of Yerevan, which appeared in social networks,  according to Pashinyan, he is being now focused on the election of prime minister and the formation of new government, for which specific time frames are provided for.

"We are working on elections, I am not aware of these processes, but I will present my position after the parliamentary elections," he said. 

Weeks of antigovernment protests led by Pashinyan forced two-time former president Serzh Sargsyan to resign as prime minister just days after he was elected to the position by the parliament, controlled by his Republican Party of Armenia.

Pashinyan, nominated by the opposition parliamentary bloc Yelk for the post of prime minister, secured the backing of 41 lawmakers in the 105-seat parliament, not enough to win the vote. To date he is the only candidate for the post in a repeat vote on May 8.

The Republican Party that thwarted Pashinyan’s first attempt to become prime minister said later it would not nominate its candidate for the post and would support Pashinyan’s candidacy. 

PRAVDA, Russia
May 5 2018
The ominous Armenian destiny
by Daniele Perra
The champion of the current "velvet revolution" Nikol Pashynian (editor of the liberal newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak - The Times of Armenia) instigated riots and protests that led him first to the inaction and then to the detention on charges of premeditated actions aimed at laying siege to the buildings of the State government. In 2015 (not by chance after the country's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union) another wave of protests from the high-sounding name Electric Yerevan invested the capital of Armenia due to the increase in electricity supply costs. Not achieved the desired result with the "peaceful" protest, even then, paramilitary groups appeared on the streets accusing the government of a too soft attitude regarding the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh (or Armenian Artsakh). In fact, in July 2016, an armed group broke into a barracks in Yerevan demanding the release of their leader Jirair Sefilan; prominent military commander during the conflict of the late eighties and early nineties, joined in 2015 to the opposition group New Armenia by Raffi Hovanisian closely linked to the US Embassy in the country.
Armenia, from the moment it gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, has been forced to live in both economic and geopolitical difficult conditions. Closed in a narrow space dimension (and extremely reduced considering the extent of the territory in which the Armenians lived in the past), crushed between two hostile nations (Turkey and Azerbaijan) and landlocked, Armenia chose to lead a policy called of the "double track" linking both to Russia, historically responsible for its security, and to the West through the role of the diaspora (active especially in France and the United States) and the clearance to the massive presence of foreign NGOs in the national territory .

However, it was precisely the strong cultural link with Russia that tore the scales for the choice of field in international relations. The complex geopolitical game of the powers in what the Arabs called Djabal al-Alsun (mountain of languages) for the profound ethno-linguistic diversity that distinguished the Caucasus, led, as the Italian historian Aldo Ferrari often pointed out, to the formation of two axes of alliances: a vertical one that includes Russia, Armenia and Iran (which paradoxically took the parts of Armenia against Azerbaijan Shiite in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict); and a horizontal one made up of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan closely linked to North American interests.

In recent years, the progressive effort of the Russian Federation to eradicate the remaining jihadist cells in the North Caucasus and to freeze the conflict around the Armenian enclave in Azeri territory, to which was added the Turkey's Eurasian repositioning following the Western failure in Syria , have put in crisis the North American geopolitical planning aimed at tightening Russia within a sanitary cordon that prevents a hegemonic role in a region that is part of several infrastructural development projects through which the natural resources of the Central Asia. In this context, it is clear that the difficult situation in Armenia (it is useless to deny the obvious structural and economic difficulties of the country) could only represent a favorable opportunity to put in place yet another attempt to subvert not a corrupt government and tyrannical (even if the government of the president and prime minister since April 2018 Serzh Sargsyan has often been addressed in these terms also by the Azerbaijani dynasty of the Aliyev, sic!) but precisely the geopolitical positioning of Armenia.
The figure of Sargsyan, father master of the Armenian politics of the last ten years and a character not without serious responsibilities, is only ostensibly stigmatized by his alleged authoritarian drift. The real objective of the velvety revolution under way in Armenia is to hit the framework of geopolitical alliances in which Armenia has entered, becoming part of the Eurasian Economic Union. The idea that street protests derive from generic demands or claims for a deep westernization is totally groundless if one considers that, as Arman Boshyan (president of the Yerevan Geopolitical Club) argued, the Armenian government under the chairmanship of Sargsyan was the most pro-Western in the history of the country. Regardless of the fact that only on 9 April was elected president, with the votes of the Republican Party of Sargsyan, a man, Armen Sarkissian, who possesses dual Armenian and British citizenship, in the last ten years have also been initiated forms of partnership with the EU, introduced civil rights for homosexuals and implemented reforms in open contrast with what is the tradition of a country and a people profoundly proud of their Christian cultural and religious heritage. One can not forget that Armenia, although still a tributary of the Roman Empire, was the first state entity to make Christianity its official religion as early as 301 AD. C. And the subsequent separation from both the West and the Byzantine East, through the rejection of the outcome of the Council of Chalcedon of 451 and the alignment with miaphysitist positions following the Council of Dvin of 455, have further emphasized the peculiarities of the National Apostolic Church and of the Armenian people in general.

Therefore, the constitutional reform that transformed Armenia from a presidential republic to a parliamentary giving the possibility to former president Sargsyan to hold the role of prime minister at the expiration of his double presidential term was only the spark used by a movement incapable of reach 10% in national elections to implement, as the ideologist Gene Sharp has taught, yet another impersonation of the majority by a narrow minority. All seasoned by the usual complicity of the Western media always willing to paint these reactions as an _expression_ of the unease of young people who take the street protest square driven by their alleged desire for freedom. In fact, the Way Out Alliance (Yelk), formed by the Nikol Pashynian Civic Contract movement (a man who for ambiguity is not second to the blogger, acclaimed by the West and half unknown in Russia, Aleksej Naval'nyj) and by the party Bright Armenia, from the moment of his birth he immediately made clear his hostility towards participation in the Eurasian Union and the desire to renegotiate a possible adhesion to the European Union through the Deep Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.

The ways in which the we come to the umpteenth coup d'etat that, disguised as a peaceful revolution, has led to the resignation of the long-term politician Sargsyan, leaves further perplexed. Starting from April 16th, demonstrations and protests, according to the non-authoritative source Radio Free Europe, progressively increased, until the participation of some groups of the security forces themselves. Now, this combination of military equipment, NGOs fished abroad and ultra-nationalist-style Pravij Sektor does not seem to predict exactly a rosy future for the alleged Western-style democracy of which opposition groups have often filled their mouths. Indeed, it will most likely point to a resurgence of the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in such a way as to destabilize the region again, further exacerbate Russian-Turkish relations and frustrate the Russian efforts to pacify the area.
At the moment, the Kremlin remains to look forward to the next developments also to understand what will be the exact evolution of the alleged "revolution" and if there will be room for maneuver to save the many interests in the country and not lose an important pawn in the Caucasian region. However, what is clear is that the "village of screaming stones", as the great poet Osip Mandelstam called it, a land that has given birth to great intellectual figures such as Gregory of Narek and Sayat Nova, has become the new front of the hybrid war through which the West tries to prevent any attempt to consolidate the Eurasian alliance.

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