YEREVAN—The Armenian Parliament on Friday voted overwhelmingly to select Dr. Armen Sarkissian as the new president of Armenia, in a move that was widely anticipated given that since his nomination in January, he was endorsed by three out of the four factions represented in the legislature.
With Ruling Party of Armenia, which nominated Sarkissian, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Tsarukian bloc endorsing his candidacy, Armenia’s next president was named in a vote of 90 to 10. He is expected to assume office during a special session of parliament on April 9.
“I want to thank those who voted for me and those who voted against me,” he said. “I will invest my long experience and knowledge and my entire energy in properly performing the duties of Armenia’s president and properly serving the Republic of Armenia, its citizens and our people.”
“And I certainly expect your and our citizens’ support for and participation in our future important victories,” added the president-elect.
Following the parliament vote, Sarkissian met with President Serzh Sarkisian at the presidential compound, where the president offered his congratulations to the incoming leader. He also pledged that in the upcoming 40 days, his staff and other resources in his office, as well as the public officials for transition-related matters.
“This, of course, is a very important event in the life of our people and state, and of course, is a very important milestone on the way of the establishment of the parliamentary democracy. I am confident you will fulfill at best the duties of the President of the Republic of Armenia,” said President Sarkisian.
“Mr. President, as I told you and many partners, I am ready to completely dedicate myself to this work within the frames of the presidential activity set by the Constitution, and invest my experience, knowledge in this important work. Work which is in fact the continuation of the years of the first, second and your presidency of the Republic,” Dr. Sarkissian told the president.
Sarkissian was nominated by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia on January 19, at which time he said that he would accept the nomination only after meeting with a broad range of political, civic leaders, as well as the population. Since his nomination, Sarkissian has met with political parties, civil society leaders and representatives of Diaspora organizations. He traveled to Artsakh where he met with President Bako Sahakian. Sahakian was one of the first leaders to congratulate Sarkissian on his selection.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lithuania’s President Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė were among the first world leaders to congratulate Sarkissian. His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia joined the chorus of people offering support and congratulations to the next president of Armenia.
Sarkissian’s first trip outside of Armenia since being nominated was to Russia, where he met with community representatives and church leaders.
He also visited the Diaspora communities in Vienna and Beirut, but interestingly not the United States, specifically Los Angeles, which houses the largest concentration of Armenians outside Armenia.
He accepted the nomination two weeks ago and was officially nominated on February 23 by the Republican Party of Armenia.
His selection as president is part of Armenia’s sweeping reforms under a new constitution, which envisions the office of the president to be more symbolic than executive, with the head of state duties being transferred to the prime minister. Since his nomination, Sakissian has called for national dialogue to foster unity between divergent forces in the country and abroad.
Born in Yerevan on June 23, 1951, Dr. Sarkissian graduated from the Yerevan State University’s Department of Theoretical Physics and Mathematics.
He is Vice Chairman of East West Institute and holds honorary and executive positions in numerous international organizations, including Member of Dean’s Advisory Board, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Dean’s Advisory Board, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago; Board Member of IREX; International Economic Alliance; Global Leadership Foundation (headed by former President of South Africa F. W. De Klerk) and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary & Westfield College, London University; the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, National Competitiveness Council of Armenia, and others.
In 1997 His Holiness Pope John Paul II bestowed the St. Gregory the Great Award to Dr. Sarkissian. In 2008 he received the highest honour in the Armenia Church, the St. Gregory the Illuminator medal, from His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos Patriarch of All Armenians in Holy Etchmiadzin.
From 1976 to 1984 he was a professor of Physics at Yerevan State University and subsequently Head of the Department of Computer Modeling of Complex Systems at the University’s Department of Theoretical Physics. In 1984 he became a Visiting Research Fellow and later professor at the University of Cambridge.
In October 1991, Dr. Sarkissian established the first Armenian Embassy in the West in London. In addition to his diplomatic mission to the United Kingdom, he went on to become Senior Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to Europe (Deputy Foreign Minister) and concurrently represented Armenia as Ambassador to the European Union, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and The Vatican. In 1995-96 he was Head of Mission of the Republic of Armenia to Europe. He was reappointed Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1998.
Dr. Sarkissian was the Prime Minister of Armenia from 1996 to 1997. He has served as Special Advisor to the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Develop-ment and as a Governor of EBRD from 1993-2000.
In 2000 Dr. Sarkissian established the Eurasia Centre at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School. Under his leadership, the Programme implemented a series of very successful projects, such as the Eurasia Business Executive and Leadership Programme for young business professionals in the Eurasia region.
Dr. Sarkissian has advised the CEOs and Corporate Boards of large global companies, including BP, Alcatel, Telefonica, Finmeccanica, Bekaerd, and others.