BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
A day after Tigran Sargsyan resigned Armenia’s premiership President Serzh Sarkisian told an audience at the Central Bank that he was dissatisfied with the performance of the government and pledged that the new prime minister would be an individual who can tackle the challenges facing Armenia, specifically as they related to the socio-economic situation in the country.
Then came Sunday’s appointment of Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian to fill Sargsyan’s shoes. From where I am sitting—having covered this and the previous two administrations—Abrahamian is someone whose public service record has shown to be nothing but a party apparatchik with very close ties to the president. In his years as the Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly, he has shown no initiative to advance the interests of Armenia’s population, as the parliament members are tasked to do, nor has he veered from the official party line.
In fact, as was the case recently with Armenia’s pension plan proceedings, he shut out opposition to the law by staging walkouts by his party and not allowing the voices of dissent about the law to be heard in the legislature.
In introducing him to the outgoing government, President Sarkisian said he and Abrahamian would work closely on the make up of the new government and, once again, reiterated his claim that new cabinet would tackle Armenia’s problems head on.
Since his election in 2008, Sarkisian’s cabinet has been a revolving door of same olds who having mastered the art of corruption, have gotten wealthier on the backs of the Armenian people. Meanwhile, economic growth has staggered and unemployment and poverty rates have gone up. Not to mention the rate of emigration from Armenia has skyrocketed, a problem that the president and his circles do not believe exists in Armenia.
The writing was on wall with Abrahamian’s appointment. His disdain for Sargsyan was fodder for Armenia’s press and social media sites and since the prime minister’s resignation several newspaper sites reported on his appointment and then were forced to take down the news because of the absence of an official appointment.
Throughout his years of public service, Abrahamian has been deemed a controversial figure and has been known as the mastermind behind the notorious vote-rigging that has become commonplace in Armenia’s election culture.
How can doors of a promised cooperation be opened by a man who has shown such disregard for democratic norms during his tenure? We will have to wait and see.