Former Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian was appointed as Armenia’s ambassador to the United States on Thursday nearly three months after his surprise resignation.
Sarkisian stepped down on April 3, just two days after the country’s four leading opposition parties announced plans to hold nonstop rallies in Yerevan in support of their parliamentary motion of censure against his cabinet.
Opposition leaders said President Serzh Sarkisian (no relation) forced the premier to step down in order to stave off protests that would have threatened his hold on power. Representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) denied that. But neither they nor Tigran Sarkisian gave a clear reason for the resignation followed by a government reshuffle.
That the former premier will get a high-level diplomatic post abroad was confirmed by President Sarkisian later in April. It was initially expected that he will become Armenia’s ambassador to the European Union. Subsequent media reports predicted, however, that he will take over the Armenian mission in Washington.
Tigran Sarkisian strongly supported the signing of a wide-ranging Association Agreement with the EU until President Sarkisian precluded such a deal last August with his unexpected decision to make Armenia part of a Russian-led Customs Union. He has since strongly advocated membership in the trade bloc which is currently transformed into the Eurasian Economic Union.
Tigran Sarkisian, 54, was appointed prime minister shortly after Serzh Sarkisian took over as Armenia’s president in April 2008. He was the governor of the country’s Central Bank until then.
The outgoing Armenian ambassador in Washington, Tatul Markarian, was formally relieved of his duties in a separate decree signed by the president on Thursday. The 50-year-old career diplomat has held that position for the past nine years.
A farewell reception in Markarian’s honor was held at the U.S. State Department on Tuesday. “We wish him well,” James Warlick, the top American negotiator in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, tweeted afterwards.