Armenia’s president urged the government to step down and argued that new elections should be held within a year at the latest and an interim government of national accord should be formed, preferably a technocratic one.
Armen Sarkissian also criticized the Armenian government during his meeting with representatives of the Armenian community in Russia.
He described Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s signing of a cease-fire agreement with Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and the withdrawal of Armenians from Karabachos as a “great tragedy.”
“There is a solution in any country where such a great tragedy has occurred. The government that led to this has to go,” he said.
Sarkissian had previously said he was not involved in the process of signing a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan that ended the decades long Nagorno-Karabakh crisis.
He said he learned about the deal over the news and that he had not been consulted before Pashinian “painfully” agreed to sign the deal.
The Armenian president said the decision should have been made after a period of consultation and debate, as the issue is extremely important for the country.
He pointed out that the situation in Armenia was very different from two years ago when elections were held and proposed the establishment of a provisional national unity government and early elections.
Suggesting that a technocratic government be established on which all parties will agree, Sarkissian said this government could work for six months or a one-year period and lead the country to early elections.
Sarkissian also said that a constitutional referendum needed to be organized before there can be new elections to amend the constitution.
Claiming that neither the president nor the prime minister should alone make important decisions for Armenia, Sarkissian said: “The constitution is not balanced at all in our country. There should be a balance between the parliament, the government and the presidency.”
He also emphasized that the country’s president should be elected by popular vote, not by the parliament as it is now.
In 2018, Pashinian rose to prominence as the leader of widespread demonstrations across the country against the political establishment, demanding an end to corruption and a more democratic Armenia.
He was elected prime minister by the parliament after the bloc he led received 70.4% of the vote in elections held in December 2018.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27 and ended with a Russian-brokered truce six weeks later.
The Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated three humanitarian cease-fire agreements during the 44-day conflict.
After nearly 30 years, Azerbaijan managed to liberate its territories from the illegal Armenian occupation. Yerevan was defeated and was forced to sign a cease-fire agreement with Baku that put an end to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh on Nov.10.
Pashinian said he signed an “unspeakably painful” deal that allowed Azerbaijan to claim control over regions it took back in the fighting.
While Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages amid the heavy fighting, Armenians are also handing over other territories under the deal, which is being monitored by both Russia and Turkey.