President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday appointed Vache Gabrielian, a U.S.-educated former scholar, as Armenia’s deputy prime minister and head of a new government ministry tasked with coordinating economic reforms.
The Ministry of International Economic Integration and Reforms is also expected to liaise with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which Armenia will join in January. Officials have said that it will also be in charge of economic dealings with the European Union.
Gabrielian, 46, was appointed to the two positions eight months after the unexpected resignation of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and several other cabinet members making up the premier’s inner circle of liberal economists. Gabrielian was one of those officials.
A graduate of the economics department of Yerevan State University, Gabrielian studied and taught in the United States from 1992-1998. He holds a doctoral degree in public administration from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Gabrielian held senior positions at the Central Bank of Armenia before joining Tigran Sarkisian’s cabinet in 2010, first as finance minister and then as chief of the government staff. Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian named him his chief advisor after replacing Sarkisian in April.
The post of deputy prime minister became vacant when its previous holder, Armen Gevorgian, stepped down on October 16. Gevorgian is regarded by some observers as a figure close to former President Robert Kocharian, who is increasingly critical of the current head of state.