On December 6, Armenia’s first president, Levon Ter Petrossian, published the following call to vigilance, in response to comments recently made by Vazgen Manukyan, the former prime minister who has become the opposition parties’ consensus candidate to replace Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, whose resignation they demand. This is an unofficial translation.
The public rally that Vazgen Manukyan headed deepened my concern about the danger of a civil war that threatens our country. It is Manukyan’s statements (following) that are the basis for such a weighty statement.
“Nikol Pashinyan must understand something else as well – that this movement that has been created, the sooner he offers his resignation voluntarily, the better. If the movement does not succeed, the infuriated public will tear him to pieces.”
“Nikol Pashinyan must leave; Let him leave voluntarily; if not, he will be forced to leave.”
Thus, Manukyan has delineated two paths for Pashinyan’s withdrawal – voluntary and violent. The words ‘dismember’ and ‘by force’ don’t denote anything other than violence. If this was mere talk, then there would not be need for serious worry. But the crowd that accompanied Manukyan on the march that he led towards the Prime Minister’s residence, its blockade for 30 minutes, and the filthy intimidation efforts aimed at his family were nothing except the overt demonstration of a readiness for violence.
If this were the position of just one of the conflicting sides, perhaps it would not present a great danger. But Manukyan is carelessly ignoring the fact that the other side, Pashinyan’s side, has adopted a similar position. Pashinyan’s stance and rhetoric demonstrate that he is not at all prepared to leave voluntarily, but is ready for any confrontation. Therefore, if both sides are so determined, then a clash is unavoidable.
Is it possible our people require evidence of this to be convinced? Is it not clear that, perhaps not intellectually, but in temperament and character, obstinacy, in their proclivity for risk-taking and their penchant to go to the very end, Vazgen Manukyan and Nikol Pashinyan are twins? Has the public forgotten that both have great experience in attacking the parliament, which they executed brilliantly in 1996 and 2018? In 2018, Serzh Sargsyan conceded, and his political base, the Republican Party of Armenia, transferred power, by an apparently legal path, to Nikol Pashinyan. [Incidentally, thus, unfortunately another opportunity to reach a compromise resolution of the Karabakh conflict was aborted, because, my impression is that immediately after his reelection, Serzh Sargsyan was prepared to sign the Lavrov Plan, which in comparison to the statement Pashinyan signed trilaterally, would have been considered a great victory.]
Instead, today, as stated above, it is obvious that Pashinyan and his team have demonstrated no readiness to yield power.
Although not directly related, I can’t not reflect on the following rather dangerous thought that Vazgen Manukyan voiced, carelessly, something which can have destructive consequences for Armenia. “Great powers are going to gather against Turkey, the world will not forgive Turkey its insolence. If an alliance is formed against Turkey, we are in that alliance.”
The question then is – what happened to Rafael Ishkhanyan’s rule about excluding third forces. It appears that we would again be returning to 1920 when, relying on the anti-Turkish alliance of the countries of the Entente, and going counter to the rapprochement between Kemalist Turkey and Russia, we not only lost Western Armenia, but also the province of Kars, the region of Surmalu, Nakhichevan and Karabakh. Does Manukyan not understand that by expressing readiness, today, to join a still nonexistent anti-Turkish alliance, we are setting ourselves up against an already concluded Russian-Turkish understanding, which means we are then challenging not only Turkey, but also our friend, Russia.
Let there not be the impression that with this article I am opposing Vazgen Manukyan and expressing support for Nikol Pashinyan. Considering the shameful and humiliating document that has fallen to Armenia and Artsakh, Pashinyan’s administration must resign without delay. But not through civil conflict, rather exclusively by constitutional means, which would be honorable for both sides. Therefore, I call on our people not to become complicit in the mass provocations which are being inflamed by both the administration and the opposition, because, other than the threat of civil war, these are also extremely dangerous in making the spread of the Coronavirus even more unmanageable. I am also waiting, without hope, for our intellectuals to come forward, at least once, with calls for vigilance.