A year after taking office, Armenia’s PM defends record

Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, has told the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly (PACE) that the country is now unequivocally democratic with absolute freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. “Our government is continuing to enhance respect for human rights,” said Mr Pashinyan, who took office a year ago following the ousting of Serzh Sargsyan in a peaceful revolution.

“We have managed to root out systemic corruption and to create real prerequisites for everyone’s equality before the law,” the prime minister added, evoking “vast political changes” in the country since what he he called “the non-violent, velvet, people’s revolution”.

However, Mr Pashinyan underlined that much work remains to be done. “Our democracy needs to be reinforced with economic and institutional safeguards. The development of democratic institutions, the existence of an independent judiciary, and the creation and strengthening of anti-corruption institutions are all key areas in which we need the support of the Council of Europe.

“This is important not only for consolidating the outcomes of our political revolution, but also succeeding in our recently-launched economic revolution, aimed at encouraging the economic activity of our citizens, creating real opportunities for them, making Armenia even more attractive for investments and tourism,” the prime minister added.

Mr Pashinyan also said that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remained a serious challenge for the whole region and that Armenia’s government was committed to the principle of only peaceful settlement of the issue. “I am convinced that mere dialogue between the leaders is not enough for settling the issue. It is very important to launch a dialogue between societies, as well, so that we prepare our respective societies for peace and not for war,” he concluded.

Photo: PACE/Council of Europe