Thousands Rally in Armenia Demanding PM Pashinyan’s Resignation

Sun May 26 2024
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YEREVAN: Thousands of Armenians staged an anti-government protest on Sunday, demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation over territorial concessions to neighbour Azerbaijan.

The protests come after the Armenian government agreed to hand over territory to Azerbaijan, which Armenia had controlled since the 1990s. The ceded area holds strategic significance for Armenia as it controls sections of a crucial highway to Georgia.

Residents of nearby settlements affected by the land transfer accuse Pashinyan of giving away territory without receiving anything in return, and they argue that the move isolates them from the rest of the country.

In a significant step toward normalizing relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Yerevan returned four border villages to Baku on Friday, villages that Armenia had seized decades ago during previous conflicts over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The protest in Yerevan’s central Republic Square was led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, who hails from the Tavush region, where villages were handed over to Azerbaijan. Galstanyan emphasized the need for a peace treaty with Baku before any border adjustments are made.

Protesters voiced their demands for Pashinyan’s immediate resignation, with some expressing their frustration at his handling of territorial concessions, citing their personal involvement in past conflicts with Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan, however, defended the territorial concessions as necessary for securing peace with Azerbaijan.

Galstanyan announced his intention to renounce his clerical office and run for the prime ministerial post, advocating for snap parliamentary elections in the country as a means to bring about change.

The opposition’s push for impeachment against Pashinyan would require support from at least one independent or ruling party MP, with success depending on garnering votes from at least 18 lawmakers within Pashinyan’s own party.

Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in a bloody conflict last year, resulting in Azerbaijan reclaiming control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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