In his New Year’s address to the nation, President Serzh Sarkisian promised that his recently reshuffled government will press ahead in 2017 with “visible and tangible” reforms that will improve the socioeconomic situation in Armenia.
“We are entering the new year with serious and realistic programs,” said Sarkisian. “We all will feel in the near future positive results of consistent and large-scale changes in the economic and other areas.”
“I do believe that the new government will succeed in doing that,” he added, standing in his office against the backdrop of an Armenian national flag and a Christmas tree.
Prime Minister Karen Karapetian echoed these assurances in a congratulatory message that was also aired by Armenian television on New Year’s Eve. “I promise you that the government, my teammates will spare no effort and will be working day and night to bring to completion those initiatives and programs that are necessary for our people,” Karapetian told Armenians.
“Hard work is awaiting us ahead,” he said. “Please be assured that we are sincere in our aspirations, and we will fight until the end.”
Sarkisian cited the need for sweeping reforms that would “give new impetus to economic development” when he announced his decision to appoint Karapetian as prime minister on September 8. He said the longtime business executive has agreed to “lead a great wave of changes” that will address popular disaffection with the socioeconomic situation in the country.
In its policy program approved by parliament in October, Karapetian’s cabinet promised a tougher fight against corruption, better tax administration and “equal conditions” for all businesses. The program says that “conventional approaches” can longer address Armenia’s socioeconomic problems.
Opposition politicians have dismissed this reform agenda as a publicity stunt. They say that the government reshuffle is only aimed at mitigating public discontent with the Armenian authorities ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2.
Sarkisian said in late November that Karapetian will stay on as prime minister if his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) wins the elections. But he has yet to clarify whether in that case he will change the premier after completing his second and final presidential term in April 2018. Armenia will switch to a parliamentary system of government after that.
In his December 31 address, the president also reiterated that his administration is committed to ensuring that the upcoming polls are democratic.“We need the kind of elections that will enable the ship of our state to avoid hitting underwater snags known from the past,” he said.