By Ruben MeloyanPresident Serzh Sarkisian did not cut short his vacation in China on Monday, ignoring opposition accusations of “criminal indifference” to the worsening situation in Georgia and its potentially grave consequences for Armenia.
Sarkisian began on a two-week vacation last week, flying to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games along with other heads of state from around the world. His office said he will watch the performances of Armenian athletes for an unspecified period of time before returning to Armenia and continuing his summer holiday there.
The presidential press service said Sarkisian visited the Olympic village in Beijing and met Armenian athletes living there on Sunday. He was accompanied by the secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council, Artur Baghdasarian, the chairman of the National Olympic Committee, Gagik Tsarukian, and other senior officials.
A spokesman for Sarkisian told RFE/RL that the Armenian leader is due to return home “at the end of this week.”
In a weekend statement, Armenia’s main opposition alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian strongly criticized Sarkisian for not rushing back to Yerevan following the onset of the Russian-Georgian war over South Ossetia. It said he should have begun urgent “consultations” with Russian and Georgian officials on how to secure Armenia’s main supply lines passing through Georgia.
“We condemn the criminal indifference shown by Serzh Sarkisian toward national security and the fate of the country’s citizens,” charged the statement.
“He is continuing to enjoy his vacation as if nothing has happened,” Levon Zurabian, a top aide to Ter-Petrosian, told RFE/RL on Monday. “This is an unacceptable and irresponsible behavior which does not befit a head of state.”
Sarkisian’s office refused to respond to the allegations. Nor has it officially commented on the Russian-Georgian conflict yet.
(Presidential press service photo: Serzh Sarkisian is greeted by Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Friday.)