The next Armenian prime minister will head a Security Council tasked with formulating the country’s policy on national defense, according to a government bill approved on Thursday.
The bill drafted by the Justice Ministry stems from Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic which will be completed when President Serzh Sarkisian serves out his final term on April 9. The parliamentary system of government will make the prime minister, not the president of the republic, the commander-in-chief of the Armenian Armed Forces.
The bill approved by Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s cabinet underlines the next premier’s status as the country’s most powerful official. The Security Council to be chaired by them will be more powerful than a similar presidential body currently advising Sarkisian on national security.
It will comprise the deputy prime ministers, the ministers of defense and foreign affairs, the heads of Armenia’s police and National Security Service and the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff. Significantly, Armenia’s next president as well the parliament speaker and the Constitutional Court chairman will not sit on the council.
Under the bill, the council will be empowered to determine “the main directions of defense policy.” It will act in a more advisory capacity on broader security matters.
The Armenian parliament, which is controlled by the ruling Republican Party (HHK), will almost certainly pass the bill before the end of Sarkisian’s decade-long presidency.
The outgoing president has still not publicly clarified whether he will become prime minister in April. He has not ruled out such a possibility.