New Armenian Labor Minister Named

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian has formally appointed a new minister of labor and social affairs nominated by the Prosperous Armenia Party, a junior partner in his governing coalition.

Artur Grigorian, 40, was handpicked to replace Mkhitar Mnatskanian, another Prosperous Armenia figure who unexpectedly resigned last week after only seven months in office.

Mnatsakanian has given vague explanations for the move. In a June 23 interview with the “Aravot” daily, he cited a “sense of dissatisfaction with my work and its results” and “enormous complications and specificities” which he said characterize the Armenian social sector.

Mnatsakanian was appointed as labor minister last November in place of another Prosperous Armenia nominee, Gevorg Petrosian. The latter quit under pressure from the party and its leader for reasons that are still not clear. Petrosian served as minister for less than seven months.

Prosperous Armenia and the Armenian government have been even more reticent about the reasons for Mnatsakanian’s resignation. Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan avoided commenting on them as he introduced Grigorian to senior officials from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs on Tuesday.

Sarkisian instead stressed the fact that Grigorian has been affiliated with Prosperous Armenia since 2006. “The government and me personally will support the minister to smoothly get down to business,” he added.

“I am ready and determined,” Grigorian said, for his part. “I am aware of the numerous problems facing the ministry. We will try to do everything possible to solve them.”

Grigorian, who has until now held a senior position at the Armenian parliament’s Audit Chamber, hails from the central Kotayk region. Much of the area is a stronghold of Gagik Tsarukian, a wealthy businessman leading the Prosperous Armenia Party.

Tsarukian’s party has four ministerial portfolios in Prime Minister Sarkisian’s cabinet. The ministries controlled by it deal with healthcare, urban development and sports and youth affairs.

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