Monday, 18 November

Prime Minister Calls for Dialog: Anti-Pension System Movement Balks

In response to yesterdays call by newly appointed Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan to anti-pension system demonstrators outside the presidential office for dialog rather than a ‘discussion out in the street’, members of the Dem Em (I Am Against) movement said they would only negotiate with the government regarding the drafting of a new pension system law.

Opponents of the current pension system had taken up positions near the presidential office when Abrahamyan approached and proposed that all parties sit around a table to discuss the matter.

The prime minister promised a resolution of the matter if discussions were held, but the Dem Em members balked at the suggestion.

“I know all your concerns and have taken the first step. I must request that our discussions not take place in the street. I am ready for dialog and you can be sure and believe that together we can achieve success as a result of discussions,” Abrahamyan told the crowd.

He went on to say that a group had been created to answer all the questions of the pension system opponents and that he didn’t want to wait until September 30, the deadline given by Armenia’s Constitutional Court to the government to change certain provisions in the pension law it had deemed unconstitutional.

In a conversation with Hetq, Dem Em member Tigran Martirosyan said that if the government accepts the movement’s demands it is ready to sit down and discuss the drafting of a new pension system law.

“It’s pointless to sit down and discuss the old law. What is there to discuss about the unconstitutional law? Whether to pay half and not pay the other half? I don’t know if there is room for dialog. The law is unconstitutional,” said Martirosyan.

When Hetq asked Dem Em member Hayk Avetisyan if he believed in the sincerity of Abrahamyan’s statements, he responded that they don’t act on the basis of belief.

“We have listed our demands. If they carry them out, we will be convinced. If they don’t, we won’t. Right now, it’s not like we believe or disbelieve 100%. The demand has been given. If Abrahamyan resolves the issues raised in a rational timeframe then all of us will be convinced that he’s a man of his word,” Avetisyan said.

Tigran Martirosyan speculated that the prime minister’s tactics might be aimed at weakening the anti-pension system movement, noting that they had gone to the presidential office to meet with the president, not the prime minister.

“We didn’t call the prime minister. He came by his own accord, perhaps to weaken the movement. I can’t rule it out.”

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