YEREVAN — The opposition parties led by former President Serzh Sarkisian and former National Security Service (NSS) Director Artur Vanetsyan have officially joined forces to participate in Armenia’s parliamentary elections scheduled for June 20.
The two men presided at the weekend over the signing of a memorandum on the creation of their electoral alliance comprising their Republican (HHK) and Fatherland parties. They said the alliance named Pativ Unem (I Have the Honor) will strive to oust Armenia’s current government blamed by them for what they see as existential threats facing the country after last year’s war with Azerbaijan.
“We will remove and hold accountable the capitulators who have discredited and humiliated our state and knelt before the enemy and will stop the decline of the state,” Sarkisian declared in a speech delivered during the signing ceremony.
“We need to realize that we are faced with a real threat of losing statehood and even being wiped out,” Vanetsyan said for his part.
The former ruling HHK announced plans to team up with Vanetsyan’s Fatherland late last month. Both parties were key members of a coalition of opposition forces which tried to force Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign over his handling of the war.
Vanetsyan, 42, was appointed as head of the NSS immediately the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” that toppled Sarkisian and brought Pashinyan to power. He quickly became an influential member of Pashinyan’s entourage, overseeing high-profile corruption investigations into former government officials and Sarkisian’s relatives. He fell out with Pashinyan and resigned in September 2019.
“Artur Vanetsyan understood the whole real essence of the new jackals, decided to stop and urged others to do the same. Alas, they did not listen to him,” said Sarkisian.
The ex-president stressed that “there will be no return to the past” if the new bloc succeeds in coming to power. He also seemed to admit that the two parties alone cannot unseat the current government, saying that regime change requires the consolidation of “all healthy forces.”
Former President Robert Kocharian, who handed over power to Sarkisian in 2008, leads another bloc comprising two opposition parties. He has said that it will be Pashinyan’s main election challenger.
Unlike Kocharian, Sarkisian made clear that he will not be seeking to become prime minister or hold any other government post as a result of the upcoming elections.
“The reason is very simple: I believe that I have finished my service to Armenia and the Armenian people in high-level state positions,” he said.
Accordingly, Vanetsyan will top the list of Pativ Unem’s election candidates and will be its prime-ministerial candidate.