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Armenian President Finally Breaks Silence Over Yerevan Hostage Situation

We have to do everything in our power to find a peaceful resolution to the Erebuni police department siege, Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan said during a Friday briefing with the heads of the country’s law enforcement and security agencies, according to an official statement issued by Sargsyan’s press service.

The president, officials said, has been briefed on the ongoing negotiations with the armed group. The heads of the law enforcement agencies have also told the president that they were doing everything to try to convince the gunmen to release the hostages, to lay down their arms and to surrender to the authorities.

“Before proceeding with our agenda, I would like to once again acknowledge that our country is currently going through really tough and crucial times. […] I want to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Colonel Artur Vanoyan. We all have the duty to ensure that this difficult situation is resolved and that such tragedy does not occur in the future. 

“The present situation is a consequence of the most dangerous idea that issues can be settled through violence and force. The further development of this mindset, however, is fraught with very dangerous consequences for our country and statehood.

“Violence, armed attacks and hostage-taking will not solve anything in Armenia; we will never allow it. The resolution of this situation must be an important maturity test for Armenia as well as our society and the state.

“I call upon the gunmen to show restraint and to refrain from endangering others’ lives with their provocative actions. The hostages must be set free. The armed group has to lay down their arms. The situation will be resolved strictly within Armenia’s Constitution and laws. Any attempts at personal reprisal will be prevented in accordance with the law,” Sargsyan reportedly said.

According to his press service, the president has also instructed the heads of the enforcement agencies to proceed with their operations patiently and strictly peacefully “as the life of each and every Armenian citizen is precious to us.”

“We did not follow the expected route in such situations because we want to give the gunmen the chance to step back. We hope that they will come to their senses; but we can’t let our entire society become the hostage of this tension […] and this situation has already lasted much longer than we can afford.

“Once again, I urge everyone to show restraint and be vigilant. For the sake of the Republic of Armenia, and the future of our people.”