Dr. Armen Sarkisian

New Armenian President Sworn in as Ex-President Expected to Retain Power

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL, Armenpress) — Armen Sarkisian was sworn in as president of Armenia amid speculation that outgoing President Serzh Sargsyan will become prime minister, a post that is now more powerful than the presidency due to constitutional reforms.

Armen Sarkisian, who is not related to the outgoing president, was inaugurated in a ceremony at the Karen Demirchian Sports and Concert Hall on April 9.

The 64-year-old Sarkisian, a former ambassador to Britain, was elected to a seven-year term by lawmakers on March 2.

Opposition leaders have accused Serzh Sarkisian, who was first elected in 2008 and held office for two terms, of seeking the prime minister’s job to allow him to retain power.

Parliament is scheduled to elect a prime minister on April 17.

Under a shift that was approved in a December 2015 referendum, Armenia changed its form of government from semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic.

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As a result, presidential veto powers have been stripped from the post and the presidency has been downgraded to more of a figurehead position.

Unlike previous post-Soviet presidents in Armenia, Armen Sarkisian was elected by parliament instead of by popular vote.

The constitutional reforms coming into effect also limit the president to a single term.

Sarkisian said in an interview that in order to attract foreign investments it is necessary to provide a transparent legal field and successful business examples for investors.

“In order to attract Western investments to Armenia everything must be done so that each potential investor knows what is waiting for him, in what conditions he is going to work, what is the country’s legislation and practice where he is going to invest. And in order to create a favorable investment environment, a constant hard work is needed,” he told TASS.

According to him, from the perspective of the country’s economic and investment attractiveness, the further strengthening of the rule of law and establishment of equality of everyone before the law is very important, which, he says, depends not only on the state, but also the citizens, society and business community.

As for the Armenian Diaspora, Sarkisian said the Armenian traders still from the ancient times established business ties in remote coasts, from India to Iran, America to Australia. “But the majority of the Western Diaspora was formed when Armenians were subjected to genocide in the Ottoman Empire in late 19th century and early 20th century. Today our compatriots practically live in all continents, they are actively engaged in the economic, public and cultural lives of 100 countries of the world,” he said.

 

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