Kocharian Reshuffles Cabinet

YEREVAN (Reuters)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian reshuffled his cabinet on Tuesday–relieving his industry and trade minister and making other changes officials said were designed to improve the government’s efficiency.

Presidential press secretary Vahe Gabrielian said Kocharian signed a decree replacing Industry and Trade Minister Garnik Nanagulyan. He promoted Energy Minister Gagik Martirosyan to a new post coordinating industrial policy.

The Azg daily newspaper reported that Nanagulyan is expected to replace Armenia’s Ambassador Rouben Shugarian in coming months.

"It isn’t that he (Nanagulyan) worked badly. Rather–life is a dynamic. There are new programmes and plans–and to carry them out new people are needed," Gabrilyan said. "But our economic course will not change," he added.

Nanagulyan was unable to revive the industrial sector–which has yet to recover from the Soviet collapse. Armenia’s modest economic growth over the past three years has been mostly in other areas.

Many economists say the long territorial conflict with neighbor Azerbaijan–which has closed trade routes–also curbs the prospects of industrial recovery. Armenia was once referred to as the Silicon Valley of the Soviet Union because of its high-tech industries.

Nanagulyan’s replacement is Haik Gevorkyan–until now the director of Yerevan’s Orbit electronics factory.

Natural Resources Minister Sarkis Shakhazizyan was replaced with Gevork Vardanyan–previously deputy defence minister.

Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Merujan Mikaelyan was given the energy portfolio.

The Regional Affairs Ministry and the Ministry for Operative Issues were merged as a single entity–the Ministry of Regional Affairs and Operative Issues–to be headed by Regional Affairs Minister David Zadoyan. Minister for Operative Issues Shahen Karamanukyan was relieved of his duties.

Health Minister Gagik Stamboltsyan was replaced with Haik Nikogosyan–a leading doctor.

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