The RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan convened a rally in Republic Square to talk about the situation in the country. The Premier addressed the rally with a speech. Below is the full transcript of Prime Minister Pashinyan’s remarks.
“Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia, I love you all, I am proud of all of you, I bow to you all. First, let us pay tribute to the memory of all our heroes, our martyrs, our fallen soldiers and officers with a minute of silence and homage.
As the elected representative of the people of the Republic of Armenia, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, I hereby order our soldiers, officers and the generals of the Armed Forces: Mind your duties in defending the borders and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia. This is my order that no one should dare to break.
What happened today? Some people have tried to involve the army, our Armed Forces in an anti-popular, anti-constitutional process. And today I described the statement initiated by the General Staff as an attempt of a military coup. Our people will not allow a military coup in the Republic of Armenia, but I wish to say that the army is our beloved army. And I am convinced that many high-ranking officers signed that statement under pressure from higher-ranking commanders. What I want to tell them is that they should endeavor towards defending the borders and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia. You must do your job. The army cannot look back at the rear; the army cannot be involved in political processes. The army must obey and comply with the orders issued by the people and the political power elected by the people. Those acting outside this logic are actually acting against the nation, against the state, against the rule of law, against Armenia’s security. And I now call on those high-ranking officers who have left their posts to return immediately to ensure the security of the country. This is my positive call.
But I would like to remind you, after all, what happened to Government-Armed Forces relationship after 2018? Our government spared no effort to improve the Armed Forces. In 2019, we increased military spending and the defense budget by 50 billion drams. We increased the salaries of all officers, privates and contract servicemen. And we did it to say that we appreciate the military service. Nevertheless, it is no secret that we still have in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia several corrupt representatives of the former government who used to built up wealth at the expense of the army for many years. They must leave office immediately.
What is the matter? By taking to the streets, they are trying to accuse me of high treason. And what does so many people have to do with the call of a traitor? They actually want to accuse you of treason. I can see in the first rows relatives of servicemen killed in action… But I do not want to politicize the question. Now let me tell you what betrayal is. The so-called prime ministerial candidate of the so-called 17-party format says, “I called on the army as early as in October, urging them to take power.” So, they used to call on the army not to fight against the Turks, but to fight against their own people. This is what happened.
The people’s power cannot be questioned for a second in Armenia. Why are these people standing here today, because they know who got rich at the expense of the army? They know who has built up immense wealth in Armenia; they know the owners of millions of dollars-worth castles. Who are they talking about, who are they accusing of betrayal? Those who stole our soldier’s bread has come to accuse the one who gave bread to the soldier, the one who gave him clothes, the one who raised wages. But this does not mean that I am trying to impose any obligation or responsibility on anyone else.
For two years now, they have been accusing us of handing over land, but just a couple of days ago the one who had been rejected, said publicly as a sign of pride that he had agreed to hand over the 7 regions to Azerbaijan. Well, if you had agreed on everything, or otherwise you had ended up accepting those conditions since you thought that it was a good solution, why are you now accusing us of handing over land?
You should have come up with public statements, telling me to sign that peace deal. You should have confessed that you had reached a point where land had to be surrendered. We said we were going to defend the country, our dignity, our homeland; we relied on our army; we believed in our army, and we still believe in our army. I am confident that the officers, soldiers, soldiers’ parents will not allow, our people will not allow the army to be involved in political processes.
Now let us talk about resolving the situation. First of all, let us admit that we all are experiencing a post-war stress, and people are tired of continued instabilities. The power of the people in the country should not be questioned. All attempts to involve the country in violence, lawlessness, provocations and civil war must be thwarted by the people, the Police and the National Security Service.
Many of you may have wondered whether I considered resigning after the war. I want to tell you honestly, I did so; I pondered a lot. But said to myself: I did not become Prime Minister on my own will. The people decided that I should be Prime Minister, and the people should decide on my resignation. And we decided to offer the parliamentary forces to hold early parliamentary elections. Why did we want to do that? We wanted the people to finally reinstate their power, but the well-known 17 political forces, including the parliamentary forces, rejected our proposal, saying that no, the people should not decide, the aforementioned 17 political parties or the representatives of the elite should gather and decide who should be the prime minister instead of the people. We said we would not allow it.
Yes, we could have decided unilaterally to go to the polls. But those political forces were saying, OK, there are 2000 polling stations; we can do whatever we want in those polling stations, we will take our chance as much as possible. We wanted the elections to be a basis for stability; we strived to close this topic.
Dear people, it is up to you to ask for my resignation, let us solve this issue after all. Anyone who takes the trouble demands my resignation. It is normal, let them demand, but I was elected by the people, so let the people call for my resignation; let the people condemn me, let the people shoot me in the street. They have been spreading rumors every other day since the 9th of November that the Prime Minister is fleeing the country; the Prime Minister's family has run away, the Prime Minister has prepared the plane to run away. Today, all the members of my family are present here, except the little ones Arpi and Shushan.
I can even say that if you make the harshest decision against us, you have the right to do so. We have made some mistakes, but my biggest mistake was… Yes, you are right. But I want to explain why! Not because we were stupid. People, when we made a revolution in this square, we said that it should be a revolution of love and solidarity. But we said so, we said that everyone should have a chance. We did not want a vendetta against anyone, but whoever managed to hit us from behind, the judges hit us, state officials hit us. During the war, they dreamed every day of seeing us defeated. They just wanted to break into this building and seize the people’s power on the 9th of November.
We dreamed of and did everything for our victory. They dreamed of defeat because they had already lost the war in their minds; they had already lost it on paper. That is why they joined the soldiers to say that the lands had already been sold off since everything was arranged beforehand. They said, “Why are you fighting, there is no point in fighting, run away, get your heads out of here.” They came to Republic Square and attacked the government building. This is the truth, people. But my proposal is still valid in connection with the parliamentary elections, I say to the parliamentary forces; I say to all political forces, let us decide the day and the hour together. Okay, let us start consultations on that topic.
The next step is to settle the situation with the Armed Forces. I had a telephone conversation with the President of Armenia earlier today, I said that, in my opinion, he should just sign the decision I have submitted. The President’s failure to sign the petition might mean that joins the coup? It is a very simple choice. The second option is as follows: Let Onik Gasparyan whom I appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, who was conferred upon the military rank of Lieutenant-General, and prior to that, the rank of Colonel-General, whom I trusted 100% during the war, just tender his resignation.
In retrospect, I understand that I was not so right in treating him with 100% confidence. Our people do not need any further convulsion, dear Onik. Therefore, the Armed Forces, the people who signed today’s statement should do their job in defending the borders of Armenia, the borders of our homeland and its territorial integrity. Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Onik Gasparyan should resign. Either the President signs the decree, or Onik Gasparyan tenders his resignation because he cannot use the army against the people. I will not allow that.
The political forces and I hold consultations. (The participants in the rally respond to the Prime Minister’s statement on snap parliamentary elections). In other words, you are against elections, dear people? How can we solve this issue now? Our brothers have gathered at another public square to demand my resignation. Well, either they have to convince us or we have to convince them. There is no other way. Let me say that we have no enemy in Armenia, let us agree on this. They are all our brothers and sisters.
Some people are attempting to provoke clashes. There will be no clashes. I love you all – both you and those gathered in the other square, no matter they consider me a traitor. Armenia is a democratic country, the will of the people must be complied with; a change of government can only occur through elections: snap or regular, we will decide it together.
I wanted to give that order from here on your behalf. First, the Armed Forces - soldiers, officers, generals - I order, I demand, I expect you to do your service. Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparyan is leaving as I have made a decision thereon, and the decision must be complied with. There is no other option. Next, I call on political forces to stop all protest actions, to stop all manifestations of disobedience. Let us start a dialog. To be honest, I wanted to update the proposal for early elections on your behalf. Otherwise, if you keep holding rallies, we will hold rallies, too; if you resort to overdose in your political allegations, you will be punished under the applicable law.
Dear people, we agreed on the following: we remove the topic of early elections at your insistence. Now I repeat, either the President signs a decree on the dismissal of the Chief of the General Staff, or Onik Gasparyan himself tenders his resignation. , I will initiate consultations with even the most critical political forces on how to settle the situation, of course, taking into account your opinion.
You did not let me finish my sentence. Therefore, it is our will, our unity, our determination that we will not hand over the people’s power to a corrupt regime, and yes, the velvet will come to an end. I knew what you wanted to hear the most, I knew. But what does it mean to do away with the velvet? This means reinstatement and final triumph of the rule of law.
Why have you gathered here, because you know that the defeat was caused by those who robbed the Armed Forces and the people for many years? They know very well that this is the people’s primary concern. They want to make you believe that we are corrupt or thieves. We will cut off our hands; we will never steal a penny from people; we will never rob the people’s wealth and embezzle our homeland since by doing so we could give up the meaning of our existence.
So, let us do away with the velvet. We continue as follows: We march across the city together to show our firm determination. First, we support our army, and the army supports us. Secondly, people know why we lost the war, and people have one expectation today. I want to apologize to all of you for not meeting that expectation and not giving up the velvet, but today we are putting an end to the velvet.
Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia, I love you all, I am proud of all of you. There is no comeback for those who have robbed the nation. I love you all, I am proud of everyone, and I bow to you all.
Glory to our fallen soldiers! We bow to their families. I hope they will forgive us since they want Armenia to be a homeland where their children’s blood will be valued, and we must fulfill that message.
Long live Freedom!
Long live the Republic of Armenia!
Long live Artsakh!
Long live us and our children as we will live in a powerful, happy and proud Armenia!