The dramatic anti-government protests that erupted in Yerevan two weeks ago have transformed Armenia and should help it become a “real democratic state,” President Armen Sarkissian said on Thursday.
“The way I think is that Armenia today is not even the same as the one that we had a couple of months ago,” Sarkisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in an interview. “First of all, we are seeing a rising interest in the global Armenian society, which includes not only the citizens of Armenia, with the fate of our nation. That’s great. That means that at the end of the day they are not indifferent, they care about the country.”
“I am happy that we have a society which is vibrant, which is young,” he said. “Young not only in that young people are demonstrating but young because it’s a young spirit of the nation.”
In a written address to the nation issued earlier in the day, Sarkissian spoke of a “new Armenia” emerging as a result of the nationwide protests that have led to the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian. He called on the Armenian parliamentary forces to jointly end the continuing political crisis.
“After several days of demonstrations, now we are going towards a democratic process, and the democratic process will lead us to the highest democratic institution, which is the parliament of the Republic of Armenia,” the president told RFE/RL’s Armenians service (Azatutyun.am).
“The outcome of this debate will be resolved at the parliament with the election of the new prime minister,” he said. “And may be the parliament will also vote for having new elections in the near future. Maybe they will also vote to amend the Electoral Code or some of the laws.”
“If we will manage this properly, if all problems which were raised by the demonstrations will be eventually resolved in accordance with the constitution and inside the parliament, then we all will be proud that we are on the real path to making Armenia a real democratic state,” he said.
Sarkissian also warned that Armenia “cannot afford” continued political instability given the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and national security challenges. “We must never forget that the state structures must remain firm,” he said.
Sarkissian pledged to strive for a “new Armenia” able to meet challenges of the modern world when he was sworn in as the country’s new and largely ceremonial president on April 9.
The 64-year-old former scholar, who had lived in Britain for nearly three decades, is the first Armenian president elected by the parliament, rather than popular vote. His predecessors enjoyed sweeping powers under the previous, presidential system of government.