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First Members Reappointed To New Armenian Cabinet


Belgium - Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian speaks at the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, 4Jun2012.

Belgium - Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian speaks at the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, 4Jun2012.

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and three key ministers have been reappointed to Armenia’s new government being formed as a result of last month’s parliamentary elections.

President Serzh Sarkisian reinstalled him as prime minister after a meeting with senior members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) on Saturday.

Speaking to journalists after that meeting, Tigran Sarkisian acknowledged that he anticipated the appointment. He said the new cabinet will be fully formed by June 15.

The first three members of the cabinet were named with presidential decrees signed on Monday. As expected, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Emergency Situations Minister Armen Yeritsian retained their posts.

Yeritsian represents the Orinats Yerkir Party, the HHK’s junior partner in the new governing coalition. Orinats Yerkir is expected to also receive two other ministerial posts. The remaining portfolios will be given to the HHK.

The ruling party’s chief spokesman, deputy parliament speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, reiterated on Monday that the government will not undergo significant personnel changes. “We believe that Tigran Sarkisian’s government has managed to achieve its tasks and go down the right path at this time of crisis and minimize negative consequences of this [2009 economic] crisis,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Sharmazanov blamed external factors for the 2009 recession and the resulting rise in poverty in Armenia.

Predictably, opposition leaders were highly critical of Tigran Sarkisian’s four-year socioeconomic track record. “No promise has been fulfilled, nothing has been done,” said Hrant Bagratian, a former prime minister affiliated with the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).

“He had promised to improve the situation -- boost the state budget, raise wages, reduce poverty -- but just the opposite has happened,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Bagratian dismissed Sarkisian’s assertions that the government has diversified the Armenian economy and thus made it more immune to global shocks. He argued that economic growth in the country is now mainly driven by the domestic mining industry heavily dependent on global metal prices.

“The problems that faced our country before 2008 have remained the same and not been addressed,” said Armen Martirosian, a leader of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.

But Sharmazanov dismissed the opposition criticism. “Do you remember any Armenian prime minister not subjected to criticism? I don’t,” he said.
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