President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday said that Armenia has made significant progress towards democracy with three major elections held over the past year and instructed his newly reshuffled government to achieve quick economic betterment in the country.
Chairing the first session of the mostly unchanged cabinet, Sarkisian praised the conduct of the May 2012 parliamentary elections, the February 2013 presidential ballot and municipal polls held in Yerevan on Sunday. “We have gone through those tests quite confidently and come out of them stronger as a state and a society,” he said.
All three elections were won by Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Armenian opposition groups consider them fraudulent.
Sarkisian reappointed the vast majority of his government ministers in separate of decrees signed earlier on Wednesday. Only three of the 18 newly appointed ministers did not serve in his previous cabinet.
Sarkisian spoke of “very high expectations” from them in his opening remarks at the cabinet meeting. “The work of this government will be evaluated only with results, extremely explicit results,” he said. In particular, he said, it should make sure that economic growth in Armenia does not fall below 7 percent this year.
“From now on, we will be expecting qualitative results from your activities -- concrete indicators of the efficiency of the government’s work and solutions to social problems … And those results must be measurable and visible,” continued the president. That must include higher wages and pensions as well as quick solutions to other socioeconomic problems, he said.
Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian assured the head of state that the government’s track record will be “tangible and visible to every citizen.” “We will not spare efforts for that,” he said.
Shortly after securing reelection in the disputed February 18 vote President Sarkisian admitted that many Armenians are unhappy with the government and pledged to address that discontent. However, he has still not indicated which concrete policy changes, if any, should be expected during his second term.
Opposition leaders and other government critics say Sarkisian’s reluctance to make sweeping personnel changes in his administration bodes ill for major reforms.