YEREVAN—Dr. Armen Sarkissian on Monday took the Oath of Office of President of Armenia during a special session of the Armenian Parliament convened at the Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex, as Armenian transitioned to parliamentary system of government.
During the special inauguration ceremony, Sarkissian placed his right hand on the original constitution and a 7th century Bible and recited the presidential oath, becoming the fourth president of Armenia.
“By assuming office of President of Armenia, I swear to uphold the Constitution of Armenia, to be impartial during fulfillment of my powers, to be guided solely by state and pan-national interests and to contribute my entire strength for the strengthening of national unity. May Gold help me,” Sarkissian said, reading the oath of office.
The oath ceremony was followed by a blessing by His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of the All Armenians.
Ahead of the noon ceremony, President Sarkissian and his wife, Noune attended a reception with the outgoing President Serzh Sarkisian at the 26 Bagramyan Avenue, the once presidential offices, which will now become the official residence and complex for Armenia’s Prime Minister, who will, according to the new constitution, be the head of state.
In his inauguration speech, Dr. Sarkissian called for the creation of “a new, young Armenia,” saying that only a powerful Armenia and a strong Artsakh can guarantee a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict. He called on all Armenians to come together and work to stabilize the socio-economic and political landscape of Armenia, vowing to fight corruption and elevate Armenia’s standing.
“Today the peaceful and negotiated resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict remains a key issue for our country and the entire Armenian people. Its first guarantees are a powerful Armenia and a strong Artsakh. In order to achieve a fair solution and to protect the inseparable rights of the people of Artsakh, we must continue building a strong, economically advancing and a powerful Armenia. For such an Armenia we must provide the best environment for self-expression to our citizens,” said President Sarkissian in his inaugural address.
In shifting his focus to domestic issues, President Sarkissian said that it was imperative to collectively fight against all negative and destructive elements that exist in the state system, starting with corruption to social injustice, from indifference to irresponsibility. “It is necessary,” he said “for each of us to act in this uncompromising and fair fight. We will succeed if we not only criticize, but also propose to unite and work jointly instead of creating divisions.”
In referencing Armenia’s heroic past, Sarkissian said the Armenian have demonstrated that the history of Armenians is most of all a history of spirit, with which, he said, it would have been impossible to advance from the days of antiquity to current realities, making global contributions and progress along the way.
“We have been at the forefront of modern universal values, beginning from the Ancient Roman and Greek classical period, the birth of Christianity until present day. We can truly be proud that we are descendants of a unique and special civilization which was formed and established on the Armenian Plateau throughout millennia,” said President Sarkissian.
“We have proven with our entire history that we are a creative, peace-loving and peaceful people. This is why Armenia is consistently promoting the policy of peaceful and negotiated solution to all conflicts and political problems. It is advancing the policy in the direction of preventing genocides and other crimes against humanity,” he said, adding that the Armenian Genocide must become a lesson in vigilance for all.
“Today the recognition of the Armenian Genocide isn’t an end in itself. The international recognition and condemnation of this horrendous crime against humanity is an important step in the prevention [of such a crime] anywhere in the world,” added the newly-inaugurated president.
“For the sake of pan-national goals and implementation of these goals, the comprehensive strengthening of the Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora unity and further effective utilization of its potential must be among our priorities. The Church is the most important pillar of our national unity: a global, national structure within which our people have gathered for centuries. We must do everything possible to eliminate artificial barriers and understand the real power of our unity. We need to develop new effective mechanisms for solving pan-national issues with a common agenda, resolve and a united effort,” explained Sarkissian.
He also advocated for economic development and growth in the science and technology as a means to advance Armenia
“We are living in an ever-changing world full of various dangers, threats and challenges. But it is also full of new and attractive opportunities for us. And whether we will be able to use these historic opportunities depends on us. And it depends on us as to what kind of Armenia we want to shape in the 21st century. An Armenia, which will be able to withstand the century’s challenges and take a worthy place among advanced nations. This, certainly is an historic opportunity,” Sarkissian said.
“We must shape a new, young Armenia. A dynamic, flexible and creative Armenia. A country which will embody the wisdom and talent of our people, which will be in line with the aspirations of all of us and will become the source of pride and excitement of all. A homeland for all Armenians of the world,” concluded the Sarkissian.
Following the inauguration ceremony, which was attended by several dignitaries from foreign countries and Diasporan leaders, Sarkissian, accompanied by Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan, visited the Yerablur National Cemetery and paid his respects to those who have given their lives for the homeland.
He then met with Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan and accepted the resignation of the government, in line with constitutional provisions. The Parliament is set to nominate a candidate for the office of prime minister in the coming days, with an election by the legislature set for April 17.