Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   21 January

Security of Armenia and Artsakh shouldn’t be trialled – President Sarkissian’s first statement after meeting Pashinyan on Saturday

YEREVAN, APRIL 22, ARMENPRESS. Amid the ongoing protests in Yerevan, President Armen Sarkissian released a new statement.

Earlier the president personally visited the heavily overcrowded Republic Square in Yerevan on Saturday to meet with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan.

“Dear countrymen,

The ongoing developments in our country have reached a dangerous line which can lead to irreversible consequences.

Unfortunately, contrary to an earlier achieved agreement, the negotiations were interrupted, when they might have led to de-escalating the situation.

Nevertheless, the destructive attitude and conduct must be abandoned, which can undermine the country’s stability, and we should continue seeking for opportunities for dialogue.

Thus, I call on all our citizens and our countrymen of the Diaspora to refrain from attempts of escalating the situation and to display restraint.

The security of Armenia and Artsakh must not be trialled.

The society shouldn’t be divided on the eve of April 24 [Genocide commemoration day]. On that day, we must be display nationwide, in both Armenia and Diaspora, maximal restraint for the world to see, and commemorate the memory of our holy martyrs united and collectively”, the president said in the statement.

Earlier on Saturday, President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian had called for dialogue, and the MP reacted by offering the president to meet in the Republic Square, full of demonstrators. Surprisingly, the President agreed and arrived shortly.

President Sarkissian was seen walking down Abovyan Street with few bodyguards as he entered the heavily overcrowded square in downtown Yerevan.

The informal meeting lasted roughly 20 minutes. Although the meeting was caught on tape by reporters, the conversation wasn’t heard.

The President then walked out of the square, waiving to the people.

After that, news emerged that Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan will meet MP Pashinyan Sunday morning.

The meeting between Armenia’s Prime Minister and opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan, leader of the ongoing demonstrations, lasted only a few minutes April 22.

The meeting took place in the Marriott Hotel in Republic Square of Yerevan, the main rally site where every evening demonstrators gather to protest.

The Prime Minister arrived without a tie, while the opposition MP was wearing his usual t-shirt and hat.

As expected, both the Prime Minister and the lawmaker arrived at the hotel at 10:00.

The meeting was held in the presence of numerous reporters who were broadcasting live.

“I am happy that you responded to my numerous calls to talk. Although I don’t quite imagine how long we can negotiate in the presence of dozens of reporters, nevertheless I am happy”, the Prime Minister said at the beginning.

MP Nikol Pashinyan responded by saying that there is a misunderstanding and that he has come to discuss the PM’s resignation and peaceful transfer of power, rather than for dialogue.

“That’s not negotiations, that’s not a dialogue. That is simply an ultimatum, blackmailing the state and legitimate authorities. You do not realize the degree of responsibility, you didn’t learn lessons from March 1 [2008]. And if we have to speak in that tone, then I am only left to once again advice you to return to the legal area and overall the limits of reasonable actions. Otherwise the entire responsibility falls on you,” Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan said.

Pashinyan reacted by saying that the situation in Armenia has changed and the power has transitioned to the people.

“A 7-8% parliamentary faction doesn’t have the right to speak on behalf of the people. And I don’t want to continue this conveersaton with you anymore. If you do not accept the lawful demand of the state, goodbye,” PM Sargsyan said and walked out on the opposition lawmaker.

Before departing, the Prime Minister addressed reporters, saying : “Dear reporters, you yourselves can make conclusions”.


English –translator/editor: Stepan Kocharyan

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