Prime Minister Karen Karapetian on Wednesday skirted questions about his political future which remains uncertain less than three weeks before the end of President Serzh Sarkisian’s final presidential term.
Karapetian has repeatedly said before that he would like to retain his post after Armenia switches to a parliamentary system of government in April. Sarkisian gave on Monday the strongest indication yet that he will become prime minister and thus remain the country’s most powerful official right after his presidency.
Some Armenian media outlets and observers have speculated in recent weeks that Karapetian will become the country first deputy prime minister mainly responsible for the government’s socioeconomic policies. During the Armenian government’s question-and-answer session in the parliament, Edmon Marukian, a leader of the opposition Yelk alliance, likewise suggested that Karapetian is ready to take up the newly established post.
“There has been no discussion on that [within the country’s leadership.] So how can I say whether or not I am ready?” replied the 54-year-old premier.
Sarkisian said on Monday that so far there have been only unofficial “discussions” within his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and its junior coalition partner, Dashnaktsutyun, on who should be the next prime minister. “I don’t know when we will finish those discussions,” he claimed.
Karapetian was tasked with improving the economic situation in Armenia when Sarkisian named him prime minister in September 2016. The former business executive unveiled an ambitious economic reform agenda in the following months. He effectively claimed credit on Wednesday for much faster economic growth recorded by the government in 2017.
Karapetian touted the 7.5 percent growth rate and outlined his cabinet’s plans for the coming years when he addressed top military officials in Yerevan on Monday. He also said the government remains committed to “long-lasting fundamental reforms.”