PM Pashinyan says resigning wouldn’t solve Armenia’s problems

(Reuters) -Embattled prime minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday he would resign instantly if that would solve Armenia’s problems, but that he believed it would only make things worse.

His comment to an opposition member of parliament reflected the mounting pressure on Pashinyan since neighbouring Azerbaijan seized control of its Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh last month.

Since then, more than 100,000 people – most of Karabakh’s population – have fled and sought refuge in Armenia, a country of just 2.8 million.

Pashinyan, in power since 2018, said Armenia had always faced challenges.

“I’ll say it straight: If I know that, for example, by my resignation or removal all these challenges will be resolved, I’ll do it the very next second because, unlike you, I do not cling and have never clung to my chair,” the state news agency Armenpress quoted him as saying.

“But all my analysis shows that this will lead to exactly the opposite result. And this is also the reason why it isn’t happening.”

Protesters have called for Pashinyan to quit over the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, which most Armenians see as a national tragedy that has forced them to abandon ancestral lands.

The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but its ethnic Armenian majority had enjoyed de facto independence since breaking away in a war in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Pashinyan said earlier he would attend European Union-brokered talks in Spain on Thursday even though Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had pulled out, according to Azerbaijani state media.

The two neighbours have fought two wars over Karabakh in the past 30 years, and efforts by the EU, the United States and Russia have yet to convince them to sign a peace treaty.

(Reporting by Reuters; writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)