Sarkisian Meets with Catholicoi amid Ongoing Protests Calling for His Removal
YEREVAN (A.W.)—Amid ongoing protests and demonstrations calling for his removal, Armenia’s newly-elected Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian hosted His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia on April 20.
According to Sarkisian’s office, the Catholicoi congratulated the Prime Minister, wishing him “fortitude, strength, patience, and endurance.” During the meeting, the three discussed the ongoing protests, rallies, marches underway in the country, and expressed their concerns over the current situation. The Pontiffs highlighted the need for holding the protests in an exclusively civilized manner, respecting the constitutional order and laws of the State.
According to the press statement published following the meeting, the Catholicoi expressed satisfaction and appreciation at the fact that no force had been used throughout the process, though there have been reports of some protesters sustaining injuries during the demonstrations.
“We are praying that the situation calms down so that people could be back to creative work aimed at strengthening the security of our country. Yes, people are facing difficulties in their daily lives, but there are also many threats and challenges that we can only defy through cohesion and unity,” Karekin II was quoted as saying.
The Catholicos went on to say that on the eve of April 24 , the meaning of that day should lead our way “so that we could spare the country new tragedies and losses.”
“We have Artsakh, we have young people serving on the borders of our homeland, whose security, we know, Mr. Prime Minister, is a matter of constant concern for you. We share your concerns in this regard. May God save us, keep our people in love and peace. This is our wish, this is our prayer,” the Catholicos added.
Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I noted that he shared the concerns of Catholicos Karekin II, and that fostering an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty involving the youth and teenagers can be harmful for both the Armenian people and Armenia’s image outside the country.
“After all, the consequences of these rallies or their implications may last for months, which can be harmful for the country. We have to tell the demonstrators that this is the homeland of all of us; we are the children of our homeland and we are a family. Problems and questions may arise, but we need to sit down and discuss them in the spirit of mutual understanding, not in the street. Compromise should be sought together. This is what it should be. Continuing in this manner and in such a way is harmful to our homeland,” Aram I said.
The Catholicos then expressed his satisfaction that Sarkisian had called on the sides “to come together and discuss issues at the table of negotiations.” “Otherwise, Homeland, Artsakh and our people will suffer losses if things keep going this way. It is time to come together because we are besieged by non-friendly forces. There are, of course, questions, but we should talk about these issues with mutual love and respect. This is what we wanted to convey to you, Mr. Prime Minister,” the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia said.
On April 17, Armenia’s National Assembly elected former President Serge Sarkisian as Prime Minister of Armenia, with 76 votes in favor and 17 against. Sarkisian was supported his Republican Party (RPA), its coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), as well as more than a dozen lawmakers representing businessman Gagik Tsarukyan’s party, Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), though Tsarukyan himself did not attend the session.
The vote was boycotted by Pashinyan and three other deputies from the Yelk (“Way Out”) alliance, who have been busy organizing the mass demonstrations. Pashinyan, who is continuing the protests in spite of the election, called for a “velvet revolution” (a term referencing the nonviolent political transition in Czechoslovakia from communism to a Western-style democracy at the end of 1989). The remaining five Yelk parliamentarians attended the session, voting against Sarkisian.
For the last eight days, there have been least three initiatives organizing protests in Armenia. One of these is #մերժիրսերժին (or, #rejectserge in English). Although it started small, it gained support as it progressed, particularly from youth.The two other groups are Front for Armenian State that was formed in Nov. 2017 and held protests in the past months, and the initiative #իմքայլը (#mystep) which is the initiative of the political party Civil Contract .
All three initiatives have joined forces for the protests, which continue throughout the city, and have attracted tens of thousands of supporters. Follow RFE/RL’s live stream below.
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Source: Armenian Weekly
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