President Serzh Sarkisian can become Armenia’s prime minister despite pledging in 2014 not to stay in power after completing his second presidential term, the ruling Republican Party (HHK) indicated on Wednesday.
Sarkisian declared four years ago that he will not “aspire” to the post of prime minister if Armenia becomes a parliamentary republic as a result of controversial constitutional changes proposed by him. Those changes were enacted in a disputed referendum held in 2015.
Opposition politicians increasingly cite Sarkisian’s 2014 pledge amid growing indications that he will take over as prime minister shortly after his presidency ends on April 9. Some of them, notably Nikol Pashinian of the opposition Yelk bloc, have accused him of reneging on it.
The HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, downplayed the significance of that statement, saying that “the interests of the state” are more important that what the president has said in the past.
“Unlike some politicians, Serzh Sarkisian is a statesman and statesmen are guided not by their personal aspirations but by the supremacy of the interests of the state,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We will do whatever is in the interests of the state.”
Asked whether that means the HHK can ignore the 2014 statement, Sharmazanov said: “Yes, what’s the problem? Statements are made at different times based on different realities.” He claimed that historical figures such as Winston Churchill and General Charles de Gaulle had also “taken steps that contradicted statements” made by them earlier.