Armenia’s leading opposition groups on Friday scoffed at President Serzh Sarkisian’s decision to reappoint Tigran Sarkisian as prime minister, saying that it heralds no major changes in government policy demanded by many people.
By contrast, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) defended the move after its governing body led by President Serzh Sarkisian approved it at a late-night meeting on Thursday. HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov insisted that despite certain “shortcomings” Tigran Sarkisian’s cabinet has been largely successful in meeting challenges facing the country.
Naira Zohrabian of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest in parliament, claimed the opposite, accusing the government of “leading the country to deadlock” and citing “worsening” poverty and unemployment. “If this is considered a good result that warrants the reappointment of this person, then any logical explanation is simply meaningless,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
It emerged that President Sarkisian held formal consultations with BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian and Armen Rustamian of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) regarding the premier’s appointment. The consultations held on Thursday and Friday are mandated by the Armenian constitution.
“This was expected and predictable,” Aghvan Vartanian, another Dashnaktsutyun leader, said of Tigran Sarkisian’s appointment. “They probably have no other solutions, no other people or have internal problems which they can’t solve and perhaps this is the most harmless variant for them.”
Vartanian said that many members of the current cabinet are competent professionals. “But a personality is one thing and a system another thing,” he added. “We have a terrible system that precludes changes.”
Ruben Hakobian, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, made a similar point. “It doesn’t matter who is appointed prime minister because in essence nobody can change anything in this system,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Some cosmetic changes are possible. But they will not be substantial changes.”
Levon Zurabian, a top representative of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), was even more critical of the president’s decision. “First of all, we do not consider Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection legitimate, and the government appointed by him will also not have that legitimacy,” he said. “In the past five years this government has taken no steps that benefited the people and contributed to Armenia’s development.”
“Nothing has changed and nothing will change,” claimed Zurabian.