YEREVAN — Armenia began on Saturday an official three-day mourning period for thousands of Armenian soldiers and several dozen civilians killed during the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire.
All flags on public buildings across the country were lowered to half-mast and memorial services will be held in all Armenian churches on Sunday to pay tribute to victims of the six-week war during which the Armenian side suffered massive territorial losses in and around Karabakh.
Thousands of people led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan marched to the Yerablur military cemetery in Yerevan where many of the Armenian soldiers killed during the hostilities were buried.
“The entire nation has been through and is going through a nightmare,” Pashinyan said in a video address ahead of the memorial march.
“Sometimes it seems that all of our dreams have been dashed and our optimism destroyed,” he added.
Pashinyan urged Armenians to join the procession and demonstrate that “we are going to live on” despite the “severe consequences” of the war.
Pashinyan reiterated that he accepts, in his capacity as prime minister, “full responsibility” for the Armenian side’s defeat and resulting heavy casualties. At the same time, he sought to deflect blame at Armenia’s former leaders.
“We need a more in-depth analysis of the reality because what happened could not have been the consequence of mistakes committed by one or several persons or over several years,” he said. “We need to … admit that we made mistakes for many years and our mistakes were of systemic, conceptual and substantive character.”
The prime minister again made clear on Saturday that he has no intention to step down and will not bow to the pressure from “elite circles.”