President Serzh Sarkisian has again declined to clarify what he is planning to do after serving out his second and final term in April.
In an interview with the Armenia TV channel aired late on Thursday, Sarkisian also praised Prime Minister Karen Karapetian and said the latter’s desire to retain his post next year is “very good” and “healthy.”
Sarkisian said that “the time has not yet come” for him to announce whether he will become prime minister or take up another state post after his decade-long presidency. “When it comes I will declare,” he went on. “There are different factors [at play,] ranging personal to other factors. I think that at the end of the day we, the Republican Party (HHK), have a right to decide, together with our coalition partner, who can do a better job where.”
Asked whether he will stay in politics in any case, the president replied: “We’ll see, we’ll see.”
Immediately after the end of his second term, Armenia will switch to a parliamentary system of government, meaning that most of the sweeping powers currently enjoyed by the head of state will be given to the prime minister. Karapetian has repeatedly indicated his desire to stay on as prime minister come April.
“As for Karen Karapetian’s desire, it’s a very good, healthy, logical desire,” Sarkisian said in this regard. “And generally speaking, I believe that Karen Karapetian, is very acceptable and useful to us as a prime minister and as a person. I mean to me personally and to the party.”
Sarkisian noted that Karapetian’s cabinet has pledged to ensure that the Armenian economy grows by roughly 5 percent annually in the coming years. “That is not a bad indicator,” he said, adding that the results of such growth would be “visible and tangible.”
Karapetian vowed to improve the socioeconomic situation in the country through major reforms and a fight against corruption when Sarkisian named him prime minister in September 2016. The ruling HHK’s governing board headed by the Armenia president gave a largely positive assessment of his track record a year later.