The Latest: Azerbaijan questions new Armenian PM’s stance
YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — The Latest on Armenian politics (all times local):
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry is criticizing the new Armenian prime minister’s statements about resolving a territorial dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Shortly after he was named prime minister Tuesday, Nikol Pashinian said he would make a trip to the region of Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces for more than two decades. Pashinian earlier said that he would push for recognition of the region’s sovereignty.
“What is this? Initial naiveté, ignorance of the subject, the bravado of the victor or maybe all of these together?” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev said.
Azerbaijan insists that any resolution of the issue must keep Nagorno-Karabakh as a part of the country.
The party that holds the majority of seats in Armenia’s parliament says it now considers itself the opposition and won’t cooperate with the new government.
Armen Ashotyan, a leader of the Republican Party’s parliamentary faction, made the statement on Tuesday hours after the man who led weeks of anti-government protests was elected prime minister.
Although many of the party’s deputies voted for Nikol Pashinian in a move to overcome the country’s political turmoil, Ashotyan said: “We do not consider it expedient to cooperate with the new government; it would be hypocritical to consider the issue of our participation in the new government.”
He added: “We will find a place for ourselves. And this place is not in power, but in the opposition.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Armenian protest leader on his election as the country’s new prime minister.
Russia has strong strategic interests in Armenia, including a military base, and had been watching the country’s political turmoil closely.
Nikol Pashinian, who was named the new prime minister by parliament on Tuesday, has repeatedly said that he would not seek to change Armenia’s cooperation with Russia.
Putin said in a telegram to Pashinian after his election that he counts on him to “aid the further strengthening of bilateral, allied relations between our countries.”
Armenia’s new prime minister has suggested that he will push for recognition of the sovereignty of the Nagorno-Karabakh region — one of Armenia’s most difficult and volatile problems.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994. Fighting periodically breaks out between those forces and Azerbaijani troops stationed on the other side of a demilitarized zone.
In a speech to parliament on Tuesday preceding his election as premier, Pashinian said that his “revolution will lead to the de-jure recognition of realizing the rights of Karabakh to self-determination.”
Any move to advance the region’s sovereignty would likely be met with considerable hostility from Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey. Both those countries closed their borders with Armenia over the conflict, leaving Armenia with direct land access only to Georgia and Iran.
Tens of thousands of supporters of Nikol Pashinian are celebrating on the central square of Armenia’s capital after the protest leader was elected the country’s prime minister.
Many of the supporters are wearing white clothes, symbolizing their hopes that Pashinian’s election will bring a new page in Armenia.
“We chose a new road in Armenia where the driver will be the people and not clans. Jobs will appear, people will return, corruption will disappear,” said demonstrator Tigran Azizian, a 42-year-old worker in the city’s subway.
The Armenian parliament voted 59-42 Tuesday to elect Pashinian, who headed weeks of huge protests.
Armenia’s parliament has elected opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian as the country’s new prime minister.
Pashinian spearheaded weeks of largely peaceful protests that gripped the country in political turmoil.
His election by a 59-42 vote on Tuesday overcomes one hurdle in resolving the crisis, but the Republican party that he opposed retains a majority in parliament.
Armenia’s parliament has opened a session to elect a prime minister, for which opposition lawmaker and protest leader Nikol Pashinian is the only nominee.
The Republican Party, which has a majority of the seats in the chamber, said last week that it would support any candidate nominated by a third of the deputies and that it would not put forth its own candidate. That move appeared to ensure Pashinian would be chosen Tuesday.
Pashinian spearheaded weeks of huge protests that were lively but largely peaceful. The protests focused on frustration with widespread poverty and corruption in the country and on former President Serzh Sargsyan’s becoming prime minister, which was seen as a maneuver to remain the country’s leader indefinitely.
Sargsyan resigned the premiership six days after his appointment.