Sarkisian Vows ‘Substantial Changes’ in Gov’t following Prime Minister’s Resignation

Armenia's President Serzh Sarkisian (left) and Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan


YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday insisted that he did not force Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan to resign and pledged to significantly change the composition of Armenia’s government.

In his first public remarks on the unexpected resignation, he exposed his dissatisfaction with Tigran Sargsyan and members of the current cabinet, who must also step down in accordance with the Armenian constitution.

“The new government must be able to restore our citizens’ trust in reforms and its activities,” Sarkisian said at a meeting with senior officials from the Central Bank of Armenia. “I think there will be substantial changes in the new government. There is a need to take a fresh look at existing problems and areas.”

“I want to once again stress that the prime minister’s resignation was really a resignation, rather than [the result of] coercion,” added the president. Echoing statements by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), he also said that Tigran Sargsyan first tendered his resignation a month ago but that he asked the premier to stay on for now.

HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov insisted as recently as on March 27 that a change of the prime minister or the government is “not on our agenda.”

The resignation was announced late on Thursday following a meeting of the HHK leadership chaired by the head of state. Neither the ruling party nor Tigran Sargsyan gave any clear reason for the move. Serzh Sarkisian also did not shed light on it, implying only that it is not connected with a parliamentary vote of no confidence in the government sought by the Armenian opposition.

Two members of the outgoing cabinet, Education Minister Armen Ashotian and Economy Minister Vahram Avanesian, admitted on Friday that Tigran Sargsyan’s exit took them by surprise.

Speaking at the Central Bank, President Sarkisian also paid tribute to the man who has headed his government for the past six years. “Six years is a long time for a prime minister,” he said. “It is the most difficult, grueling and, maybe I’m not using the right word, thankless work. I occupied that position for a very short time [from 2007-2008,] but even that was enough for me to feel the strain. Unfortunately, this is the situation we are in.”

Under the constitution, Sarkisian has to appoint the next prime minister by April 14. The latter will have three weeks to form his cabinet and seek its endorsement by the parliament. The president gave no indications as to who Tigran Sargsyan’s successor will be.

Opposition parties ponder next steps
The parliamentary leaders of Armenia’s four main opposition parties met on Friday to discuss changes in their joint anti-government actions that were necessitated by Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s unexpected resignation, the RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) reports.

They claimed credit for the development, saying that it is the result of their growing cooperation. “Clearly, the plan of actions drawn up by us and, in particular, our rally slated for April 28 caused the authorities to panic,” said Levon Zurabian of the Armenian National Congress (HAK). “This is the only reason for that resignation.”

The HAK and the Prosperous Armenia (BHK), Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun parties planned to propose a vote of no confidence in Sargsyan’s cabinet on April 28. They also agreed last week to hold three-day rallies in Yerevan in support of that motion. The premier’s resignation has rendered the planned opposition actions meaningless, however.

“The question of the government’s resignation is now out,” Zharangutyun’s Ruben Hakobian told reporters after the meeting. “But joint actions remain on our agenda and we will soon clarify when we are going to take them.”

Hakobian said the four parties agreed to discuss the changed situation separately and then come up with proposals on what they should do now. They are “determined” to keep up their joint efforts and work out “a new agenda,” he said.

“I can only state one thing. We set a goal and we have attained the realization of its first stage. We must now move forward,” Zurabian said for his part.

The HAK and Zharangutyun stand for President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation and the conduct of snap national elections. The BHK and Dashnaktsutyun favor a more cautious line, having so far called for only a change of the prime minister and other cabinet members.

BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian reacted cautiously to Tigran Sargsyan’s resignation, saying that it has not created a “totally new situation” in Armenia. Zham.am quoted him as saying that the onus is on the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) to “admit mistakes” and change government policies. Tsarukian also stressed the importance of continued cooperation among the four opposition forces.

Some Armenian media outlets reported that Tsarukian and President Sarkisian met on Friday. The HHK and the BHK did not confirm or refute the information.

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6 Comments

  1. Avetis said:

    Thank you Mr. President for systematically putting to death the beast known “complimentary politics”.

  2. Sarkis said:

    The leaked phone calls revealing the American and European plan to have Turkey send in a few special forces into Syria and conduct false flag operations by purposefully launching attacks from Syrian lands onto Turkish-occupied territory should raise alarms and discussion among Armenian-Americans. There is no longer any room to deny: Syria’s democratically elected President Bashar Al-Assad was targeted for an illegal regime change by the war criminals of America and Europe. Their evil plans failed. Now they are unleashing their favorite, closest ally in the world Turkey to start a war with Syria. America and the EU gave Turkey full permission to carry out the Massacre of Kessab. America, the EU and Turkey don’t care about Armenian civilians being slaughtered, they don’t care about “democracy” or “freedom” or “civil society” or human dignity. American and the EU have zero problems working with terrorists like al-quadea and al-nusra in Syria. They only care about expanding their empire. Instead of acting like civilized governments, instead of acting like Christian nations, the immoral heads of the EU government are praising Turkey for being such a “model Muslim democracy” not even a month after Turkey committed the massacre of Kessab!

    Therefore it should not surprise anyone that America and the EU not only refuse to recognize the Armenian Genocide, but they actively help Turkey deny and cover up the Armenian Genocide. It does not matter whether Democrat or Republican, American or British, the entire west is united behind Turkey against Armenia. America and the EU only lie to Armenians and pretend they care about Armenia and “freedom and democracy”, but their actions prove otherwise.

    Thank God the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh, and the Armenians in Syria are protected and supported by Russia. As brave and noble as Armenia’s military is, Armenia is too small and too weak to save itself from the combined forces of NATO. The sooner Armenia is in the Customs Union, and the more integrated Armenia becomes in the CSTO and the Armenia-Russia alliance, the better it will be for Armenia. I pray that the next Prime Minister of Armenia will be a man (or woman) with a strong sense of purpose, and one who will not hesitate to stand up for Armenia and Armenians around the world in the face of American, EU and Turkish fascism and anti-Armenianism.

  3. gaytzag palandjian said:

    I would have written ¨No comments¨ to said change,had it not been for the above first comment.Armenia does not need-any more- to conduct a ¨complementrary¨ politics(started by FM Vartan Oskanian.
    Times change and at present in light of what has taken place in another country,viz.Ukrain and PROVOCATIVE attacks on Armenian Kessab(across from Turkey into Syria,it is time that Armenians both in Homeland and Diaspora think¨Switzerland¨¨or Finland rather positioning so to say in international politics.For our neighbours day and night are anxious to see us get involved in otherwise unnecessary entanglements that would cost us very dearly. We must stay put and observe how great Turkey that has lost its head-it seems -and lets mercenaries and the like actuate from within their borders into other countries and that to an ¨¨old time¨¨ raya thought of people´s centuries old HABITAT.
    it remains to be seen how the powers that are , will react to this latest anti Armenian move of great Turkey!!!!!

    • Armanen said:

      Due to geopolitical realities Armenia can not be like Finland or Switzerland. Armenia needs a patron and that patron is Russia.

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