Opposition Blasts EU Double Standards

By Asbarez | Tuesday, 07 June 2022

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Armenian opposition leaders accused the European Union on Tuesday of turning a blind eye to the excessive use of force by police against protesters demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation.

They singled out the failure of the EU Delegation in Yerevan to condemn security forces for firing stun grenades during violent clashes with opposition supporters which broke out on Friday at a street intersection adjacent to the diplomatic mission.

Dozens of protesters and police officers were injured in the clashes. The two sides blamed each other for what was the worst violence since the country’s main opposition groups launched on May 1 a “civil disobedience” campaign aimed at ousting Pashinyan.

Lawmakers representing those groups condemned the EU Delegation’s “silence” as they led several hundred opposition supporters demonstrating outside the delegation building. One of them, Aram Vartevanyan, said the EU was far more concerned about police actions during the 2018 mass protests that brought Pashinyan to power.

“But it is silent now,” Vartevanyan told the crowd. “And with this silence it is encouraging the police brutality.”

“You must make a choice in Armenia,” another lawmaker, Anna Grigorian, said, appealing to the EU mission. “Do you support European values, democracy and the rule of law or Nikol’s rule?”

The head of the EU Delegation, Andrea Wiktorin, said last month that Armenian riot police should “follow rules” and not be allowed to “operate with impunity.”

Wiktorin also said: “There can be different perceptions of what peaceful gatherings are, and if there are provocations I would personally ask myself where does it end.”

The U.S. ambassador to Armenia, Lynne Tracy, also expressed concern over the use of force against protesters in Yerevan. Still, Tracy was condemned by the opposition after she effectively welcomed on May 18 the outcome of last year’s parliamentary elections won by Pashinyan’s party.

Vartevanyan was asked by journalists why the opposition does not voice similar criticism of Russia, which has not publicly commented on the Armenian authorities’ response to the protests. He argued that unlike the Western powers, Moscow does not portray Armenia as a democracy or claim to promote democratic reforms in the country.

Both Tracy and Wiktorin addressed on May 20 a “forum for democracy” in Yerevan attended by Pashinyan and other senior government officials. Opposition representatives were not allowed to participate in the event.