YEREVAN–During a ceremony attended by ruling faction of the parliament and foreign dignitaries, Serzh Sarkisian took his oath of office Tuesday at the Karen Demirchian Sports Complex, pledging to protect basic rights guaranteed by Armenia’s Constitution.
In his inaugural address, Sarkisian pledged to work on Armenia’s economic development, predicated on poverty, emigration and unemployment, furthering rule of law for advancement of democracy and ensuring equality for in the country and ensuring equality for all.
During the swearing in ceremony, Sarkisian said: “Assuming the office of President of the Republic of Armenia, I swear to unreservedly fulfill requirements of the Constitution to respect human and civil rights and freedoms, to safeguard independence of the Republic, its territorial integrity and security for the glory of the Republic of Armenia and for the benefit of the people of the Republic of Armenia.”
“For the forthcoming five years, I consider our state’s and nation’s economic development the number one priority. A whole array of problems that Armenia is facing is in this very plane. Let me highlight three main ones: emigration, unemployment, and poverty. The solutions for these problems are to be found on the same field. Efficient economy that is on the rise, this is the formula to our success,” said Sarkisian.
“The second priority is in ensuring the rule of law. Equality of everyone before the law is a binding prerequisite both for our economic and political advancement,” pledged Sarkisian. “The third priority, most directly linked to the one before, the rule of law, is the deepening of democracy. Compare Armenia of five years ago with Armenia of today and you will see the difference. Compare the levels of the freedom of speech, press, and association.”
On the foreign policy front, Sarkisian called for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying Armenia has never advocated war, but if need be it is prepared to defend its national security.
“We do not want war but, at the same time, we are ready to withstand any challenge,” said Sarkisian. “Coercion, violence, terror, war; these are our opponent’s notions of reality. They are trying to impose upon us the same notions they force on their own people.”
Across town, at Liberty Square, opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian, who has led a popular movement since the presidential elections on February 18, urged the people to fight and reclaim their homeland and their rights. He led the crowd of tens of thousands at Liberty Square in an oath to collectively work for the advancement of Armenia and basic civil rights.
Prime Minister Tigran Sagsyan and all 18 members of his cabinet tendered their resignations immediately after Serzh Sarkisian’s inauguration on Tuesday, reported RFE/RL.
The move stemmed from Armenia’s constitution, which requires a newly elected or reelected president to form a new government. Under the constitution, Sarkisian must appoint a prime minister within the next 10 days. He has another 20 days to name all ministers.
Sargsyan read out the government’s collective letter of resignation at a ceremony held in the presidential palace in Yerevan. “Mr. President, working with you has been a great honor for us,” he said in the presence of the ministers. “Of course, we have had difficult days, we have had not only successes but also mistakes and failings.”
Sarkisian responded by thanking the cabinet for its “effective work,” saying that it has operated in a challenging environment and managed to solve “seemingly impossible objectives.” “There is no doubt that a huge number of our citizens are unhappy with our work,” he said. “But, dear colleagues, rest assured that people are unhappy not with individuals but with existing problems.”