President Serzh Sarkisian said Armenia has changed “beyond recognition” during his nearly five-year tenure and expressed confidence about his reelection as he was formally nominated for a second term by the ruling Republican Party (HHK) over the weekend.
In a speech at an HHK congress in Yerevan, Sarkisian also pledged to carry out sweeping reforms that will strengthen the rule of law and bring prosperity to his country. “There is no doubt in my mind that we will win and will see the Armenia of our dreams – strong, prosperous, and secure,” he told hundreds of delegates, among them many senior government officials.
“Rest assured that for our compatriots, who had left Armenia only years ago, Armenia has changed beyond recognition,” declared Sarkisian. It is now a “much more comfortable and safe country” which is “incomparably more attractive for businesses.”
Sarkisian specifically defended his government’s handling of the 2009 economic crisis, which resulted in a sharp decline in Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product. He said the government has maintained financial stability, saved and created thousands of jobs, kept utility prices unchanged and invested heavily in public infrastructures. He also insisted that widespread corruption and other government abuses are being “step by step” eliminated.
Sarkisian’s political opponents will brush aside these statements. They regularly accuse the Armenian authorities of mismanaging the economy, promoting corrupt practices, keeping the judicial system under government control and rigging elections.
Sarkisian insisted, however, that the conduct of democratic elections is his administration’s “first and foremost priority.” “We have received excellent reactions to our latest parliamentary elections,” he said.
Sarkisian’s stated self-confidence mirrors election-related statements made by senior members of the ruling HHK in recent weeks. They have said that his victory in the presidential ballot scheduled for February 18 is a forgone conclusion.
The incumbent president’s reelection chances received a major boost last week when his potentially most serious challenger, Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian, unexpectedly pulled out of the presidential race. Tsarukian’s decision followed a December 8 meeting with Sarkisian.