17 Apr 2018 17:43

Armenian president on protests: Violence must be ruled out

YEREVAN. April 17 (Interfax) - The right to free speech and free expression is among the crucial values of democracy, but violence is unacceptable, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian said.

"The right to free speech and free expression is among the critical values of democracy. The opinion of each citizen of Armenia is important to the country. At the same time, the free expression of will must exclude violence, unlawful actions, and restrictions of the rights of others," Sarkissian told Interfax in comments on the mass demonstrations in Yerevan in protest of Serzh Sargsyan's appointment as prime minister.

"The security of our country and national solidarity should be a priority for all of us and a necessity that is not subject to discussion. Of course, I'd like to stress once again that the health and the life of every citizen of Armenia, from students and demonstrators to police officials, is dear to all of us," Sarkissian said.

The constitution stipulates that the right to nominate candidate for the post of prime minister belongs to parliamentary forces, he said.

"A candidate nominated by the parliamentary majority could be counterbalanced by the opposition's voice. Also, any political force or individual is entitled, within the framework of the rights stipulated by the constitution, to freely express their opinion, their disagreement or agreement with a given event in the form of an assembly, a rally, or other peaceful methods," Sarkissian said.

Since April 16, Yerevan has seen protests involving thousands of people against Sargsyan's appointment as prime minister.