YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s London-based former prime minister, who recently co-organized with a British royal a major fundraiser to help rebuild several historical and architectural cites in his native city Yerevan, has voiced a strong desire to be ‘useful’ for his homeland. But Armen Sarkissian, who briefly headed the Armenian government in 1996-1997, stresses he has no interest in engaging in politics back in Armenia.
“I believe that one can be useful for his country not only through political participation or party affiliation, by being in power or in opposition. I think that one can avoid all this and still help his homeland simply by focusing on the main areas where he can make a small contribution,” Sarkissian said in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL.
At present Sarkissian, 56, lives in the United Kingdom and is known for his activities as businessman and an expert in energy security. He is a senior member of energy and economic forums and is the founding president of Eurasia House International in London.
A charity event as part of the “Yerevan My Love” project initiated by Prince Charles and Sarkissian took place in Windsor Palace on February 10, with visiting President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian (no relation to the ex-premier) attending the reception. The project is dedicated to preserving architecturally significant buildings in Yerevan and putting them to use to improve the life experience of disabled children, young people and disadvantaged families. Its first beneficiaries are four structures of historic and architectural value in the center of Yerevan, which will serve as social centers for vulnerable groups and gifted children under the auspices of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin. The February 10 reception hosted by Prince Charles was also attended by many Diaspora Armenians, who had specially arrived in London from different countries for the occasion.
“I also hope that it will grow into a sort of cultural movement in which, of course, there should be no political or partisan presence – this is just an attitude towards the city,” said Sarkissian. “My friendship with Prince Charles led us to a very natural idea to have a night to serve several purposes, first Armenian-British friendship, then gathering friends from different corners of the world who share our ideas or attitude, and for us it was also a means to launch the project.”