President Serzh Sargsyan

Sargysan Drops First Hint on Next Armenian President

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s next president must be a renowned but politically inexperienced individual who speaks foreign languages, President Serzh Sargysan said on Tuesday, January 16.

Sargysan commented on his possible successor at a meeting with a group of elderly artists and intellectuals.

“In Serzh Sargysan’s view, the future president must speak foreign languages, have broad connections in both Armenia and the [Armenian] Diaspora, enjoy a good reputation, and, most importantly, be an impartial person who has never engaged in politics and been a member of a political party,” the presidential press office said in a statement. It did not cite him as naming anyone who he thinks would be fit for the post.

Sargysan will complete his second and final presidential term on April 9 in time for Armenia’s transition to a parliamentary system of government. The next Armenian president will be elected by the parliament, rather than popular vote, by March 9 and have largely ceremonial powers.

The parliament is controlled by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), putting Sargysan in a position to install his choice of the next head of state. Meeting with parliamentary leaders last week, Sargysan said his successor should enjoy “broad-based support” in the National Assembly.

Armenian newspapers claimed late last year that Gagik Harutyunyan, the chairman of Armenia’s Constitutional Court, is Sargysan’s preferred presidential candidate. However, Harutyunyan insisted in December that he has received no such offers and is not interested in the job.

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Some media outlets have since speculated that Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, who is fluent in English, French and Russian, may become president. Citing an unnamed government source, the Yerevan daily Zhamanak said on Tuesday Armenia’s ambassador to Britain, Armen Sargysan (no relation to the president), is also a potential candidate.

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