YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Reuters)–President Robert Kocharian announced new cabinet appointmen’s Monday.
Under presidential decree–the Department of Statistics–State Register and Analysis became a ministry with the same title. The Ministry of Communications became the Ministry of Postal Service and Telecommunications. And–a Ministry of Economic and Structural Reforms was created.
Some of the new figures were almost as young as the prime minister–including some former fellow students from his days at Moscow State University.
The new finance and economy minister is 36-year old Edward Sandoyan–previously a senior Armenian Central Bank official.
Vartan Oskanian–43–was named foreign minister. He has lived in the United States and recently became an Armenian citizen.
The newly created Ministry for Economic Reform went to Vahram Avanesyan–who Interfax news agency said was 36.
Analysts said Prime Minister Armen Darbinian’s cabinet line-up sent a strong signal that market reforms would continue–but they also said Darbinian himself had probably been chosen as much for his loyalty to Kocharian as for his economic expertise.
"He is not a strong or influential figure–and hence will not fully control the cabinet," said Hakob Avetikian–editor of the independent daily newspaper Azg.
"Kocharian will remain the main director of the cabinet. It is a sign that there will be a highly coordinated government machine," he added.
The new cabinet is due to put forward an economic program within 20 days so that the assembly can hold a vote of confidence in the government and its program.
Among Ministers replaced were Justice Minister Marat Alexanian; Education and Sciences Minister Artashes Petrossian; Communications Minister Grigor Pokhpatian; Minister for Culture–Youth’s Affairs and Sports Armen Smbatian; Social Welfare Minister Hran’sh Hakopian; Transport Minister Henrik Kochinian and Minister-Chief of the Department of Statistics–State Register and Analysis Edward Aghajanov.
Speaking of the new cabinet–Kocharian noted that rather serious changes have been introduced and new experienced specialists have been summoned to make the government’s work effective and dynamic.
The presidential press service reported that Kocharian emphasized that the Economy and Finance Ministry is the base of the government and should become the most powerful ministry. However–according to the president–the ministry should not feel itself to be simply a ministry of finance and be guided by macroeconomic indices–but must also deal with industry–agriculture–as well as other fields of economy.
According to Prime Minister Armen Darbinian–a working team of people with high professional qualities–capable of resolving tasks and successfully continuing the reforms–has been formed.
Cabinet appointmen’s are as follows:
Healthcare Minister–Gagik Stamboltsian (retained post)
Justice Minister–David Harutiunian (replaced Marat Alexanian)
Industry and Trade Minister–Garnik Nanagoulian (retained post)
Foreign Minister–Vartan Oskanian (replaced Alexander Arzoumanian)
Environmental Protection Minister–Sarkis Shahazizian (retained post)
Agriculture Minister–Vladimir Movsissian (retained his post)
Energy Minister–Gagik Martirossian (retained post)
Chief of Government Office–Minister for Urgent Affairs–Shahen Karamanoukian (retained post)
Sciences and Education Minister–Levon Mkrtchian (replaced Artashes Petrossian)
Interior and National Security Minister–Serge Sargssian (retained post)
Defense Minister–Vazgen Sargssian (retained post)
Privatization Minister–Pavel Kaltakhchian (retained post)
Social Welfare Minister–Gagik Yeghanian (replaced Hran’sh Hakopian)
Statistics–State Register and Analysis Minister–Stepan Mnatsakanian (replaced Edward Aghajanov)
Minister for Territorial Government–David Zadoyan (replaced Galust Gamazian)
Minister for Economic and Structural Reforms–Vahram Avanessian (new ministry)
Transportation Minister–Yervand Zakarian (replaced Henrik Kochianian)
Minister of Postal Service and Telecommunications–Artak Vardanian (replaced Grigor Pokhpatian)
City Planning Minister–Felix Pirumian (retained post)
Finance and Economy Minister–Edward Sandoyan (replaced Armen Darbinian)
Minister for Culture–Youth’s Affairs and Sports–not appointed (ex-Minister Armen Smbatian was relieved of his duties under presidential decree)