Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, October 17, 2023.

By Shoghik Galstian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on May 7 accused the organizers of continuing protests against his territorial concessions to Azerbaijan of trying to provoke another Armenian-Azerbaijani war with the aim of toppling him.

Pashinyan claimed that Azerbaijan will invade Armenia if he bows to their demands to halt the handover of key border areas to Baku.

“If the process is stopped, a war will break out,” he told a news conference. “I believe that this is [the protest leaders’] goal.”

“The forces that are demanding a halt to the border delimitation will do, with the help of some external forces, everything so that more territories of Armenia are occupied and use that for causing political changes in Armenia,” he said, adding they want to install a “puppet government.”

Pashinyan spoke as hundreds of protesters led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan continued to march to Yerevan from the northern Tavush province that has included the border areas in question since the early 1990s. Many residents of adjacent Tavush residents are also strongly opposed to the unilateral land handover, citing serious security risks.

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Galstanyan brushed aside Pashinyan’s “unserious” claims as he and the other marching protesters approached Charentsavan, a town 35 kilometers north of Yerevan. “Shame on him,” the outspoken clergyman told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

So far the protest leaders have not listed Pashinyan’s resignation among their demands. They have attracted strong support from the Armenian opposition as well as other groups and individuals critical of the government.

Pashinyan on Tuesday described Robert Kocharyan, a former president heading the main opposition Hayastan alliance, as a “beneficiary” of the ongoing protests which he said are led by Catholicos Garegin II, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Speaking one day before his planned visit to Moscow, he also implicitly accused them of collaborating with Russia.

Pashinyan similarly accused Moscow of fomenting last September’s anti-government protests in Yerevan sparked by an Azerbaijani military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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