The leadership of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has held no discussions yet on who will be the country’s prime minister after President Serzh Sarkisian’s final term ends in April, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian said on Thursday.
Karapetian also reiterated his desire to retain his post, saying that he has had more “successes” than “failures” since taking office in September last year.
Sarkisian has still not clarified what he is planning to do after his decade-long presidency, which will be followed by Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic. Two Yerevan newspapers claimed earlier this month that he and Karapetian have agreed that Sarkisian will become prime minister while Karapetian will take over as deputy prime minister in April.
Karapetian denied those claims at a news conference. “After April 9, the Republican Party of Armenia will propose the prime minister’s candidacy together with its coalition partner [the Armenian Revolutionary Federation,]” he said. “We have had no such discussions. That is why it is simply fruitless to speak of any agreements.”
“As regards Serzh Sarkisian’s reputation and rating as a guarantor of [national] security, as an experienced leader, I fully agree with those assertions,” he added, referring to statements made by senior HHK figures.
Asked about his own political future, Karapetian said: “I have made it clear that I am ready [to remain prime minister.] Remember that? I’m continuing my work, focusing on that work as much as I can.
“What do I want to do? It may sound a bit pretentious … but [I want] to serve my country. And I’m sure that we can definitely have a better country.”
The HHK’s governing board headed by President Sarkisian gave a positive assessment of Karapetian’s one-year tenure in September. It said that his cabinet has sped up economic growth and attracted substantial investments in Armenia.
The 54-year-old premier, who is the ruling party’s first deputy chairman, spent most of his press conference defending his track record with statistical data and reform measures taken by his cabinet. He cited faster economic growth recorded in Armenia this year and stood by the government forecast that it will accelerate to 4.5 percent in 2018. “I’m sure that we are on the right track,” he said.
Karapetian also claimed that he is on course to fulfill his pledges to attract this year $850 million in funding for various business projects in the country. He said that nearly half of those investments were made in January-August. The figure includes investments from foreign and domestic entrepreneurs as well as government grants and loans to Armenian businesses, he said.
Opposition politicians and other critics will dismiss Karapetian’s claims. They say that living standards in the country have not improved during his tenure.