YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the leader of a major opposition party on Thursday met but failed to agree on snap parliamentary elections which they believe should be held to end the political crisis in Armenia.
Edmon Marukyan, who leads the Bright Armenia Party, said he insisted during the meeting that Pashinyan stop trying to sack the country’s top army general, Onik Gasparyan, who demanded the government’s resignation last week.
“I cannot imagine pre-term elections without a solution to the issue of the chief of the [army’s] General Staff but want the elections to take place as soon as possible,” Marukyan told reporters. “That is why I was suggesting that we reach consensus, put this matter on hold, deal with it after the elections and move on.”
“The prime minister says that the two issues must not be linked to each other,” he said.
Pashinyan petitioned President Armen Sarkissian last week to formalize Gasparyan’s dismissal immediately after the chief of the General Staff and 40 other high-ranking officers issued a joint statement accusing the Armenian government of misrule and demanding its resignation.
The statement was condemned as a coup attempt by Pashinyan but hailed by opposition groups trying to topple him with street protests. Although the Bright Armenia Party is not among those groups, it too effectively defended the military’s top brass.
Pashinyan renewed his offer to hold fresh elections on Monday amid rising political tensions in the country. He reiterated on Wednesday that their conduct is conditional on consensus among his My Step bloc, the Bright Armenia Party and the second parliamentary opposition party, Prosperous Armenia. He said he will meet with the leaders of both parties for that purpose.
The Prosperous Armenia Party has still not officially responded to Pashinyan’s proposal. It also remains unclear whether its leader, Gagik Tsarukyan, will agree to meet with the embattled prime minister.
Marukyan said that he and Pashinyan agreed to meet again after the Prosperous Armenia Party clarifies its stance. The Bright Armenia Party leader would not say whether he is ready to drop his condition for an election-related deal with the government.
“I hope that we will somehow find a way out,” he said. “I don’t yet know how we will find that way.”