The wife of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday declined to clarify what he plans to do after completing his second and final term in office next year.
“I didn’t want him to become president in the first place. I didn’t want him to be on the political arena,” Rita Sarkisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), commenting on lingering speculation that he may become prime minister in April 2018.
When asked whether she wants him to retire from the political scene, she said: “I want to have a rest.” Asked whether that depends on Sarkisian’s political plans, she replied: “Yes and no. We’ll see.”
The first lady also insisted that she never given her husband political advice. “I don’t like women who advise their husbands,” she said. “How can I advise him? I don’t like that. I would never do that. And I would not respect a man who would take my advice on the job.”
Sarkisian himself has shed little light on his political future so far. He said in March that he would like to “play a role, in some capacity, in ensuring the security of our people” after the end of his decade-long presidency.
Armenia will switch to a parliamentary system of government from April 2018, meaning that its next president will be elected by parliament and have largely ceremonial powers.
Rita Sarkisian spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service while visiting a Yerevan hospital specializing in treatment of children suffering from various types of blood cancer. A charity headed by her has for years provided financial assistance to it.
The first lady complained of declining donations to the charity called Donate Life. “Three or four years ago we raised half a million dollars for this hospital,” said the former music teacher. “The following year that figure dropped to $300,000. This year we have only $100,000.”
“But that’s OK,” she went on. “We’ll learn that culture [of benevolence] little by little.”