Armenian President resigns: "This is not an emotionally-driven decision"
President of Armenia resigns
The President of Armenia unexpectedly announced his intention to resign on Sunday, late in the evening. Armen Sarkissian explained that this was not an emotional decision, but one that “followed a certain logic” of the development of events. He stated that there is a crisis in the country, which he, as president and guarantor of statehood, could not overcome, since, according to the constitution, he did not have real and sufficient tools for this.
In 2015, the Armenian constitution was amended and the country’s semi-presidential form of government was replaced by a parliamentary one. In this regard, the position of the president has become of a more representative. The real control of the country was passed on to the prime minister.
Armen Sarkissian was elected President of Armenia in March 2018 for a seven-year term.
According to the constitution, the president must submit his resignation letter to the National Assembly. It is considered accepted from the moment of publication in the manner prescribed by law. In the event of the resignation of the president, before the next one takes office, these powers are exercised by the speaker of parliament. Extraordinary presidential elections are held in Parliament no earlier than twenty-five and no later than thirty-five days since the letter of the resignation is submitted.
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Inspired by ‘ historic opportunity’
Armen Sarkissian stated that in the early 1990s the people of Armenia had the opportunity to create an independent state, to build a country that would ensure the security, progress and prosperity of the Armenians. And he personally believes that the main reason for the existence of an independent state is the ability to take on and bear responsibility, both for their victories and defeats.
“Inspired by this historic opportunity, I, like many of my compatriots, dedicated myself to this mission. For various reasons, my participation at different stages changed [I was the Prime Minister of Armenia, the Ambassador of Armenia to Belgium, Luxembourg, the Vatican, the UK], but I did not stop believing in our ultimate national success. And this was the main motive for my consent to the proposal to become the President of Armenia”.
In his statement, Sargsyan openly writes that, accepting the position, he assumed that “the presidential institution would have tools, opportunities to influence foreign policy, economic, investment policy, relations with the diaspora, as well as the ability to promote national interests in the international arena and form a new scientific -educational and high-tech environment”.
“Didn’t resign early to avoid further polarisation”
Armen Sargsyan said in his statement that he did not succeed in all this after the Velvet revolution of 2018, when the team of the incumbent Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan came to power.
“The question may arise why I didn’t resign then? The answer is obvious, since I have taken responsibility as President of the Republic, I was obliged to do everything in my power to avoid further deepening of the internal split and possible clashes that could lead to extremely negative consequences. I tried to use the authority and connections gained as a result of many years of work, as well as my international political and economic potential to build a strong, stable state”.
Could not influence the crisis due to “lack of tools”
Armen Sarkissian believes that the country is in a political crisis and asks himself why he could not influence “the political events that led us to this national crisis”. He replies that “the reason is again obvious – the lack of appropriate tools”:
“We have a paradoxical situation where the president has to be the guarantor of statehood, without actually having any real tools to do so. The Constitution also provides for the supremacy of one state institution over another, creates obstacles for the participation of well-known diaspora specialists in the management of state institutions in the historical Motherland, etc. We are a parliamentary republic in form, but not in content”.
Sarkissian is pleased that a commission on constitutional amendments has already been established and hopes that the next president and the institution of the president as a whole will be able to work in more favorable conditions.
Disappointed that “the president cannot influence issues of war or peace”
Sarkissian writes that this is a “unique reality” in which
- the president cannot influence matters of war or peace,
- cannot veto laws that he considers inappropriate for the state and the people,
- the president’s capabilities are perceived not as an advantage for the state, but as a threat by various political groups,
- the president cannot use his potential to solve systemic domestic and foreign policy issues,
- the world is in a constant state of turbulence, and the president does not have constitutional tools to help his country,
- the president, and sometimes his family, are targeted by various political groups.
Leaving “after active work”
Sargsyan writes that he thought for a long time before deciding to leave his post:
“This decision is not emotionally-driven at all, it follows a certain logic. The President does not have the necessary tools to influence the radical processes of domestic and foreign policy in this difficult time for the country and people. In this difficult time for our state, when national unity is needed, the institution of the president should not be the object of gossip and conspiracy theories, thereby diverting public attention from the most important issues.
Today, more than ever, we need meaningful, well-thought-out action. Otherwise, we, the Armenians of the whole world, will not achieve the goal of our mission, we will find ourselves on the sidelines of history. We no longer have the right to be wrong!”
Political scientist Robert Ghevondyan writes on his Facebook page:
“The resignation of the president is most likely connected with constitutional changes. Probably, we are moving to a semi-presidential model of government (which seems to me the most optimal for Armenia at this stage). In this case, the President had to resign one way or another.
As an experienced politician, Armen Sargsyan probably decided to “play white” and create a base for himself or his team to take place in future political processes.
In any case, a new political situation has developed, and it is interesting what explanations the Prime Minister will give on this issue tomorrow evening during the questions and answers [Nikol Pashinyan’s press conference is expected on January 24] session”.
The head of the “Fair Armenia” party Norik Norikyan believes that the resignation of the president qualitatively changes the situation in the country:
“The content of the resignation letter gives grounds to emphasize that the challenges existing in the country are deeper than the obvious problems that we all observe. This move will have political implications, the impact of which we will feel very soon”.