Why Armenian Church supports Pashinyan's resignation

Why Armenian Church supports Pashinyan's resignation

On January 7, the head of the spiritual office of the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), Archbishop Arshak Khachatryan, announced the need for Nikol Pashinyan to leave the post of Prime Minister of the republic as soon as possible, referring to the demand of the Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II, who called on Pashinyan to resign. The AAC believes that Pashinyan is personally responsible for the military escalation in Karabakh and the defeat of Armenia in the second Karabakh war. Nikol Pashinyan himself did not comment on the words of the Armenian clergy in any way.

Recently, criticism of Pashinyan and demands for his resignation have become a kind of trend: many Armenian politicians, experts and bloggers take advantage of the situation of unlimited public censure of the prime minister and try to make a name for themselves through this. The AAC, it would seem, does not need PR, and issues of internal politics, including the backstage intrigues of the political establishment of Armenia, are outside the field of vision of the clergy. However, the clergy say that in the current political situation "the Church cannot be an outside observer."

How did Pashinyan annoy the Church? The AAC is an influential and non-poor structure, although its income is unknown, since major sponsors remain in the shadows. In the modern history of Armenia, the AAC reached its heyday during the reign of the Karabakh clan: Presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sargsyan often demonstratively made political decisions, coordinating them with prominent figures of the AAC. Then the influence of the church increased so much that the obligatory subject "History of the Armenian Church" appeared in schools. Pashinyan, on the other hand, destroyed the usual comfort of the Armenian Apostolic Church, deciding that its influence should not go beyond church and temple complexes. The prime minister studied the proposal to abolish the teaching of Church history in schools and did not skimp on criticism of the clergy, hinting at the "counter-revolutionary policy" of the archbishops.

Moreover, Pashinyan swung at the "sacred" - he tried to take away from the Armenian Apostolic Church the status of the "unifier" of Armenians not only in Armenia itself, but also abroad. In September 2019, he launched his PR campaign to unite within the framework of the "Pan-Armenian Idea". Numerous foreign diaspora visits were supposed to strengthen Pashinyan's image as a unifier. The AAC was not involved in organizing this campaign, although it retains an extensive network that operates in many countries of the world; various kinds of spiritual centers cooperate with the political leadership of certain countries, public and cultural organizations, and attract representatives of the Armenian diaspora.

Now, despite the fact that Pashinyan's political career is practically buried, the Armenian Apostolic Church opposes the prime minister, who has become a direct competitor for the Church in matters of Armenian consolidation. When there is no trace of Pashinyan's former popular support, the Armenian Apostolic Church can realize its potential to unite Armenians on the basis of a negative attitude towards the prime minister. It remains only to observe how the Armenian Apostolic Church is developing a strategy that it can implement immediately after Pashinyan's departure. And the next Armenian administration will certainly try to strengthen ties with the Church to create a powerful tandem.

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