Armen Sarkisian was appointed by Congress four years ago, shortly after the country became a parliamentary republic, and has complained that the constitution does not give the head of state enough power to influence domestic and foreign policy. In recent years, after the Armenian defeat in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, he has had constant differences with the Prime Minister
Almost four years after his appointment by Parliament, Armenian President Armen Sargsyan tendered his resignation from office, arguing that he does not have the appropriate constitutional tools to influence the country’s politics.
“I have been thinking about it for a long time, I have decided to resign from the position of President of the Republic, after working actively for four years,” Sarkisián said in a statement released through the official website of the presidency.
“The question that may arise is why the President has failed to influence the political events that led to the current crisis. The reason is obvious, again, the lack of adequate tools, the Constitution. The roots of some of our potential problems are hidden behind the current Basic Law,” said Sargsyan, who was elected to the post on the recommendation of outgoing President Serzh Sargsyan.
A president in times of transition
A referendum held in 2015 approved that the former Soviet republic abandon the presidential regime and opt for a parliamentary one. Sarkisian was the first president appointed by the legislature under the new constitution, and since then the clashes with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have been constant.
Both differed on the controversial former Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan, appointed by Pashinián and considered an instigator of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which caused Armenia to lose 70% of the territory it controlled after the war against Azerbaijan that took place between 1990 and 1994.
Tonoyan was placed under arrest last September, accused of fraud and embezzlement of 4.7 million dollars in defective weapons sold to the country, in association with businessman Davit Galstyan.
After the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh agreed with Russian mediation, Sarkisian unsuccessfully urged Pashinián to immediately abandon power, considering him responsible for the Armenian defeat.
“We are living in a reality (…) in which the president cannot veto laws that he considers inconvenient for his people and the state,” Sarkisián said in his resignation statement.
Last year, Sarkisian and Pashinian again differed over the appointment of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces Artak Davtyan, which the President did not sign and refused to pass to the Constitutional Court, which by then decided on the departure of his predecessor, Onik Gasparyan.
The next step: a new presidential election
The Armenian Constitution provides for an extraordinary presidential election to be held 25 to 35 days after the resignation of the incumbent president.
However, Sargsyan, who was appointed to a seven-year term, believes the reforms need to go deeper.
“I am glad that a constitutional amendment commission has been formed, for which I thank the government. I hope that sooner or later the constitutional changes will come, and the next president and the presidential institution will be able to work in a more coordinated and balanced environment.”
With EFE, AP, Reuters and AFP