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Sarkisian Promises Major Reforms


Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian (L), outgoing Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian (C) and his incoming successor Karen Karapetian meet with senior members of the ruling Republican Party in Yerevan, 8Sep2016.

Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian (L), outgoing Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian (C) and his incoming successor Karen Karapetian meet with senior members of the ruling Republican Party in Yerevan, 8Sep2016.

President Serzh Sarkisian said on Thursday that he expects his incoming new cabinet to embark on sweeping reforms that would “give new impetus to economic development” as he commented on his decision to change Armenia’s prime minister.

Sarkisian said his choice of the new prime minister, Karen Karapetian, has agreed to “lead a great wave of changes” designed to address popular disaffection with the socioeconomic situation in the country.

“The new government must restore the broadest trust in the authorities and find unconventional solutions for our economy and public life, which will … bolster Armenia’s positions in the region,” he told senior members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

Sarkisian said the main task of Karapetian’s cabinet, which will be formed in the next few weeks, will be to implement the kind of reforms that would significantly improve the domestic business environment.

The outgoing prime minister, Hovik Abrahamian, promised to speed up such reforms in May. Abrahamian, who was appointed prime minister more than two years ago, defended his track earlier in the day. He admitted, though, that his cabinet has failed to address many of the country’s socioeconomic woes.

Many Armenians have not felt any improvements in their lives despite faster economic growth registered by the government during Abrahamian’s tenure. Some have been hit hard by a sharp drop in remittances from their relatives working abroad and recession-hit Russia in particular.

Both Abrahamian and Karapetian attended a late-night meeting of the HHK’s governing board that discussed “substantial” personnel changes in the government promised by Sarkisian.

An HHK statement said Karapetian assured the board members that he will present a plan of government actions that will consist of two parts. “The first part will contain possible quick changes and successes that could instill some [popular] trust and faith towards the program, while the second party will lay out a vision for the long-term development of our country,” it said without elaborating.

The incoming premier was also cited as pledging to discuss the plan with economists, Armenia’s leading businesspeople, and “anyone else interested in this topic.” He declined to talk to journalists after the HHK meeting.

Karapetian, 53, has mainly lived in Russia for the past six years, holding senior executive positions in Russian subsidiaries of the Gazprom gas giant. He had managed Armenia’s Gazprom-controlled gas distribution network before serving as mayor of Yerevan from 2010-2011.

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