YEREVAN—Dr. Armen Sarkissian, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia’s candidate for president, had a busy day Wednesday visiting among other places Armenia’s Constitutional Court, Yerevan State University and Tumo Center for Creative Technologies in a bid to fulfill his pledge of meeting with a cross section of Armenia society prior to accepting the nomination.
Sarkissian opted to explain his decision to not immediately accept the nomination by outlining his desire to meet with the people and key stakeholders in the country, adding that the new constitution will usher in a new era that will have a lasting impact on the country.
“After April, regardless of who becomes President, we will enter a new period where after the experience of the past 26 years, when the country was governed by a presidential, and then semi-presidential systems, we will transition to a parliamentary system, which significantly differs from the previous ones,” explained Sarkissian when speaking to the science department of the Yerevan State University on Wednesday.
“In terms of simplicity of governance, the most simple is the presidential system. However, in order to create a more principled system, which will enable us to form a stronger civil society, strengthen democratic institutions and create checks & balances of power in the long-term, the parliamentary system of government is more realistic,” added Sarkissian, who is currently serving as Armenia’s Ambassador to the Great Britain and United Kingdom.
He explained that under the new constitution, the president will serve a seven-year term, and it is up to that individual to create and initiate this new culture on the right footing, because, he explained that “after seven years if we conclude that we have created the wrong culture, it would be very difficult to change.”
“Certainly, before undertaking such a responsibility, any individual must rely on his spiritual values, his culture, his faith, his reasoning and life experience, but also also have certain qualities among them an ability to listen to differing opinions,” said Sarkissian.
The former prime minister also touched on the issue during an interview with Shant TV, during which he disagreed with the notion that the next president of Armenia will be “without powers,” given that the new constitution grants executive powers, including the command of the armed forces, to the prime minister.
“If they read the constitution carefully they will see that it envisages not a limited monarchy but more powers than are enjoyed by the presidents of many European parliamentary republics,” said the ex-premier currently serving as Armenia’s ambassador to Britain.
“Obviously, the president of the republic will have to stick to the letter and the spirit of the constitution during their tenure,” he went on. “But you and I know very well that with the same letters and the same words one can write different sentences and express different thoughts.”
On Wednesday, Sarkissian also toured the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, where he gained a first-hand knowledge of the center’s activities and mission.
He told reporters that his visit to TUMO was not happenstance, but rather a planned one, because “I believe that if we are dreaming of a good future for our republic, Tumo is the first indicator that directly shows where Armenia should be going.”
Sarkissian said that advancing the technology sector in Armenia will provide the country with the ability to advance to a larger global market and at the same time allow the country to harness both its domestic potential and that of the Diaspora’s.