Prime Minister Karen Karapetian again made clear on Tuesday that he wants to retain his post after President Serzh Sarkisian’s final term in office ends in April.
Karapetian also insisted that the leadership of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has still not decided who should be the country’s prime minister then.
Some senior HHK figures, notably former parliament speaker Galust Sahakian, have stated in recent weeks that Sarkisian should continue to govern Armenia as prime minister or in another capacity.
“This is their personal opinion,” Karapetian told reporters. “The party has no decision yet. As soon as the party makes a decision we will announce it.”
The Armenian president, who is the HHK’s top leader, himself has shed little light on his political plans so far. The end of his decade-long presidency will be followed by Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic in which the prime minister will be, at least on paper, the most powerful state official.
Karapetian spoke to the press after delivering a speech at the Sixth Armenia-Diaspora Conference in Yerevan and answering questions from some of its participants. One of them, a Lebanese-Armenian businessman, wondered whether he would like to stay on as prime minister next year. “Yes,” the premier replied briefly.
He has repeatedly made similar statements since being appointed by Sarkisian as prime minister in September 2016.
In his speech at the government-organized forum, Karapetian again defended his one-year track record and reaffirmed his pledges to implement far-reaching economic reforms. He cited official statistical data showing faster economic growth, rising exports and improved tax collection in the country. Critics dismiss these figures, saying that they have had little impact on living standards in the past year.
“We do realize that these results of our one-year work are not enough to qualitatively change the lives of Armenia’s residents,” said Karapetian. “We must actively continue our policies while developing and implementing new programs.”
Karapetian renewed his calls for Diaspora Armenians’ involvement in his reform drive, saying that they “understand very well what kind of environment foreign investors expect and can guide us accordingly.” “For that purpose, we are planning to hold next autumn a big economic and investment forum in Armenia during which we will discuss Armenia’s future and our vision for Armenia,” he said.