New president of Armenia: who is he and what does he intend to do
A new president of Armenia has been elected – Vahagn Khachaturian, who previously served as minister of high-tech industry. His candidacy was nominated by the ruling majority of Parliament. The opposition factions “Hayastan” and “I have the Honor” did not put forward their candidacy and did not support the candidate of the authorities.
Details about the resignation of the previous and the election of a new president, the first statements of Vahagn Khachaturian and his vision of the future of Armenia below.
- Armenian President resigns: “This is not an emotionally-driven decision”
- Op-ed: does Armenian parliament have any real power?
- Opinion from Yerevan: “The world failed to condemn aggression in Karabakh, and now Europe is in danger”
Resignation of previous president and election of a new one
Vahagn Khachaturian’s predecessor unexpectedly announced his resignation late in the evening of Sunday, January 23. In his statement, Armen Sargsyan stressed that this was not an emotional decision at all, but one that “proceeded from a certain logic” of the development of events. He explained his decision by the fact that there was 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.
This is explained by the fact that in 2015 the Armenian constitution was amended, according to which the semi-presidential form of government of the country was replaced by a parliamentary one. In this regard, the position of the president has become more representative. The administration of the country passed to the prime minister.
Armen Sargsyan was elected President of Armenia in March 2018 for a seven-year term. At the time of taking office, he knew about the limitations of presidential powers. Therefore, the hasty resignation of Armen Sargsyan still raised questions and versions of why he actually left the post. In the same statement, he himself hinted at the “disillusionment” that arose during the period of work with the new government of Armenia, which came to power after the “Velvet Revolution” of 2018. He was nominated as the president by the previous authorities.
The day after Sargsyan’s resignation, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, answering the question of what caused the president’s departure, preferred not to comment on possible versions, but to talk about the future. The prime minister said that the next president should be like-minded to the current authorities so that there are no disagreements that they had with Armen Sargsyan.
Already in early February, the ruling party officially announced the name of its candidate for this post – the former Minister of High-Tech Industry Vahagn Khachaturian.
The first round of elections took place on March 3, hours before the second. At this stage, the ruling party did not have enough votes to elect their candidate. 81 votes were required, the ruling majority lacked ten. And the parliamentary opposition initially announced that it did not intend to “participate in any way” in the presidential elections. But in the second round, only 69 votes were needed, and all the deputies of the ruling faction, and there are 71 of them, voted for the candidacy of Vahagn Khachaturian.
Who is the new President of Armenia?
Vahagn Khachaturyan is an economist. In 1992-96 he was the mayor of Yerevan and an adviser to the President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan. After his retirement, he often acted as an independent expert on economic issues. In 1996-99 he was a member of parliament.
In the 2007 parliamentary elections, he was a representative of the Impeachment bloc. The main demands of the parties united in it were the resignation of the then President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan and Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. The list of the bloc in the elections was headed by the current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
In 2021, Vahagn Khachaturyan became a member of the Pashinyan government, taking the post of Minister of High-Tech Industry.
“The power of the president is enough”
On the eve of his election as president, Vahagn Khachaturian said that it was important for him to participate in the elections and the opposition. He also said that he intended to be president not only for members of the ruling majority, but for all citizens of Armenia:
“I want to assure our society that it will be protected by the state and state institutions, will receive the [degree of] security that we all want, will live the life and will have the future that we all dream of”.
The new president believes that Armenia’s society today is divided and is in difficult socio-economic conditions, so it is important that “the unifying institution of the president work”. However, he intends to solve problems not alone, but in cooperation with parliament, government and civil institutions.
Touching upon the issue of the president’s limited powers, Vahagn Khachaturian stressed that the powers do not matter if there is a desire to work. In his opinion, the president’s powers are sufficient to lead this branch of power.
According to the President, Armenia’s priority task is to ensure security and increase the country’s defense capability. Moreover, he believes that when the security systems start working, the Armenian economy will also develop:
“We will achieve economic success only if our security systems work, when we feel that our borders are protected, when there is an atmosphere in the region that there is no danger of war”.
Armenia, according to Khachaturian, should strive for stability in the region. Speaking about the “peace agenda” that the current government is currently implementing, he noted that he “does not see another way for Armenia’s development”:
“We must get rid of fears, understand that our region should become a platform for cooperation. We have neighbors, we must be able to live in peace with them. If society has a different vision, then we are leading the country to destruction.”