Armenian president receives EastWest Institute award
Armenian President Armen Sarkissian has been named the honorary recipient of an EastWest Institute award.
He was given the John Edwin Mroz Global Statesman Award, which is granted annually to honor individuals for superior leadership, innovation and their capacity to act as agents of change.
What distinguished the president of Armenia?
The prize was given to Sarkissian in recognition of his long career as a statesman and for his personal achievements, including his significant contribution to global development. The Chairman of the EastWest Institute, Ross Perot, said during the award ceremony:
“In times when Armenia is going through a stage of changes, Sarkissian has been charged with ensuring the stability of the country and presenting it with a vision which we are sure will lead to a more democratic and prosperous future.
“The EastWest Institute remains dedicated to the development of innovative and creative solutions aimed at both resolving the problems of our day and at preparation for future challenges. People such as Sarkissian make our efforts possible.”
President Sarkissian expressed his gratitude for the award:
“The 21st century is a century when things will be done and ruled by new ideas, by research conducted by those who are quick and by those who are young and energetic regardless of how old they are. Politics will be done differently. I do truly believe that the 21st century is Armenia’s century. That’s why I think we will be victorious. I am happy to be part of the Armenian nation. We are a small state but a global nation … This award will remind me that there is still much to be done. I have been charged with serving my nation and country, a country which in the 21st century will be a leading nation in the world.”
EastWest Institute awards have been given to former statesmen such as US President George Bush, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel and the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
What awaits Armen Sarkissian after his return from New York?
Armen Sarkissian’s visit to New York coincided with the beginning of a political crisis in Armenia. The parliament passed a bill which will make it difficult to hold early parliamentary elections.
However, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan says that early parliamentary elections must be held because the current composition of the parliament does not reflect the political reality or the will of the nation and is thus illegitimate.
The PM brought thousands of his supporters out onto the streets in response to the parliament’s decision and held negotiations with MPs of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia.
After the negotiations, the PM told his supporters that a verbal agreement had been reached, and that the former authorities and its current supporters would not impede upon holding early elections. However, representatives of the Republican Party of Armenia said the next day that no agreement had been made.
Thus, the fate of early elections are in the hands of President Armen Sarkissian. If he signs the bill, it will come into effect.
However, there is another possible move for the Armenian president. He can send the bill to the Constitutional Court. This would provide enough time to dissolve parliament and hold early parliamentary elections.
Armen Sarkissian’s position
Armen Sarkissian has already announced that he will begin discussions with various political camps once he returns to Armenia.
The question of whether or not he will sign the bill is actively being discussed by the Armenian media.
Political observer Hakob Badalyan for Lragir.am writes that the president of Armenia will be taking an anti-government step if he signs the bill:
“If Armen Sarkissian signs the bill, it will practically make this award worthless. A state figure cannot sign a bill which was put forward by anti-government actors.”
However, Badalyan does not believe Sarkissian will go down this path as it will lead to a deepening of the political crisis in the country.
How Sarkissian became the president of Armenia
Sarkissian was appointed president by the parliament and through direct voting. His candidacy was put forward by former Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan, the leader of the Republican Party of Armenia.
During the days of the revolution, Armen Sarkissian served as a mediator in the negotiations between Serzh Sargsyan and the opposition MP and current prime minister Nikol Pashinyan.