Nalbandian, Ohanian May be Replaced
YEREVAN-President Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday officially appointed Karen Karapetyan as Armenia’s new prime minister, while reports suggested that Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian were on their way out in the new cabinet.
Citing media reports, Azatutyun.am reported Tuesday that Nalbandian would not return to his post in the new cabinet. The same sources reported that Vigen Sargsian, Sarkisian’s chief of staff is poised to Nalbandian. Sargsian did not comment on the speculation.
On Monday, the Russian Interfax news agency, citing government sources, reported that Ohanian was being eyed to head the Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO, the post-Soviet regional security organization, of which Armenia is a member.
“Seyran Ohanyan will be dismissed from Defense Minister’s post in the near future. He will be appointed as CSTO chief,” the souse told Interfax. CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha had declared earlier that his successor would be named on October 14 during the organization’s Collectives Security Council to be held in Yerevan.
Karapetyan was nominated by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia executive board last Thursday, after his predecessor, Hovik Abrahamian resigned his post citing a “failure to address challenges.”
During the RPA executive board session, President Sarkisian highly endorsed Karapetyan’s nomination and pledged sweeping economic and political reforms and challenging Karapetyan to lead those efforts ahead of the parliamentary elections next year, which are to be held under a new constitution adopted last year in a referendum.
“We are all well aware of Mr. Karapetyan’s abilities and working ethic,” said Sarkisian last week at the RPA board session. “I am convinced Karen Karapetyan will be able to become that unique symbol of change by his effective work. He will be able to lead all the developments by the path defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, that is to say, through modern approaches.”
Sarkisian also hinted that the outgoing Abrahamian would play a key role in the party’s election campaign.
Soon after Karapetyan’s nomination, Vazgen Manoukian, chairman of Armenia Public Council, a state advisory body, urged the incoming prime minister to “go against some government factions” if he intends to succeed in his mission. “The government system is made up of different sections and interests, and the prime minister can introduce great changes by skillfully exploiting their differences and gaining public trust,” he said.
Karapetyan, 53, graduated from Yerevan State University, department of applied mathematics in 1980 and holds PhD in economics. A former mayor of Yerevan, Karapetyan has held several position with the Russian gas giant Gazprom, and its Armenian subsidiary, ArmRosgazprom. Since 2014, he has been Deputy Director General for International Projects of Gazprom.