In a television interview broadcast late on Thursday, President Serzh Sarkisian gave no indication that he plans to retire from politics after completing his second and final term in office next year.
Sarkisian is not on the list of candidates fielded by his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) for the April 2 parliamentary elections.
Asked by Euronews, a multilingual TV channel based in France, whether this fact means he is quitting politics, he said: “That means we take into account the concerns voiced by our opposition that the administrative resources can be used throughout the electoral process. That also means that we are creating opportunities for young people to express themselves in politics.”
“I have been the leader of the Republican Party for ten years and I remain the party leader,” added Sarkisian. He did not comment further on his political future.
The 62-year-old president has so far not publicly ruled out the possibility of becoming prime minister after the end of his tenure in April 2018. Some observers have speculated that he might only stay on as HHK chairman and continue pulling the strings in that capacity. An HHK representative said in November that Sarkisian will head the ruling party for “many years” to come.
Sarkisian’s political opponents claim that he is intent on holding on to power after April 2018. They say this was the reason why he initiated Armenia’s transition to a parliamentary republic through controversial constitutional changes enacted in late 2015.
“I firmly believe that the parliamentary model is more effective,” Sarkisian told Euronews. He said the parliamentary system of government is also more democratic.
The HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, said this week that Prime Minister Karen Karapetian will be playing a more important role than Sarkisian in the party’s election campaign.