Pashinyan and Sargsyan try to show there is no conflict between them
This week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Armen Sarkisyan discussed the republic's urgent problems for the first time since the the state of emergency was announced. The main topic of the meeting was overcoming the coronacrisis as soon as possible. Although the government has completely failed its health policy, and the rate of COVID-19 spread has barely decreased over the past couple of months, Pashinyan was quick to declare that the Cabinet of Ministers has successfully coped with its task, providing every citizen with proper medical care.
According to Pashinyan's logic, he and his government have done very well. Thousands of jobs were recovered, huge funds were spent on health care. Pashinyan hopes that Armenia will be able to overcome the peak of the pandemic by the autumn. The prime minister said nothing to explain why the republic had become a COVID-19 hot spot in the South Caucasus, why the small country did not tested the population for infection and why it was not prepared for the spread of COVID-19 disease. Pashinyan's speech contains no analysis of his government's activities, only a positive agenda and words of gratitude, but only to his team.
For Armen Sarkisyan, who chose the role of an active listener, it was enough to note his readiness to help Pashinyan's cabinet. He recalled his connections abroad when he was the Armenian Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
At the same time, the Pashinyan government's work does not stand up to criticism, since the situation, when overcoming the pandemic becomes possible not through prevention, but because people simply contracted coronavirus, cannot be called favorable. The authorities only have data on COVID-19 severe cases. The exact number of people who actually got sick with the virus in one form or another remains unknown for the authorities, respectively, not irrelevant.
But talking exclusively about the virus would be unreasonable in terms of propaganda, especially since five months after the state of emergency has been declared in the country, society is skeptical about the leadership's words about the prevention of coronavirus spread. To dilute the populist rhetoric, Armenian politicians once again found a reason to talk about their army's "successes" and Azerbaijan's "aggression". The July clashes give room for imagination. It makes no sense to dwell in detail on the Armenian prime minister's words, since Pashinyan once again talked about the new metaphysical realities of the Karabakh conflict, as well as about supposedly overcoming the myth of the invincibility of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. What's interesting is the Armenian President let slip that during his work as a diplomat, the West was skeptical about the combat capability of the Armenian army. On the one hand, Sarkisyan accused the Western countries of considering the settlement of the Karabakh conflict through the prism of military confrontation, on the other hand, he tried to raise the fighting spirit and prestige of the Armenian Armed Forces. One gets the impression that the topic of the July clashes was raised solely for publicity, since the result of the escalation in no way contributed to the progress of the negotiation process. There is no question of any success.
Neither Pashinyan nor Sarkisyan said something new. Their meeting was like a play in which it was important for the main characters not to forget their lines. It is possible that the real purpose of the meeting was to show Pashinyan's ill-wishers that there is no conflict between the prime minister and the president. An anti-Pashinyan bloc is now being formed in Armenia, which includes those who do not share the ideals of the Pashinyan revolution. The figure of Sarkisyan is very attractive in this sense, since he is not a member of Pashinyan's team, and he sit on the sidelines when Pashinyan purged the officials. It is not excluded that by holding such working meeting Pashinyan wanted to show Tsarukyan, Vanetsyan and other politicians, who openly challenged the PM, that the president of the republic is loyal to the ruling party.
On the other hand, Pashinyan could share his media popularity with Sargsyan, since now he is criticized no less than the prime minister. Armen Sarkisyan bears personal responsibility for the current situation in the republic, since it was he who was obliged to ensure that one branch of government did not privatize the other one, and no criminal cases were fabricated against Pashinyan's political opponents. But in reality, Sarkisyan calmly watched Pashinyan cleansing the republic's political space.