Armenian president is the head of the state and supreme commander-in-chief of the Republic of Armenia and, in other words, they can be said “Leaders of Armenia”.
What are the duties and responsibilities of the Armenian president?
What is his role in Armenian politics? For how many terms can the president be elected? What will happen after 2018, when the constitution of Armenia changes?
Who are the most prominent political figures and leaders of the Armenian politics since the independence?
In this article, we’ll tackle all the mentioned questions. So, let’s get down to it and understand who is leading Armenia!
Armenian President’s Role, Terms and Influence
The President of the Republic of Armenia is the head of state. He is the guarantor of sovereignty, independence and territorial security of Armenia. The Armenian president is elected by the citizens of Armenia for a five-year term. According to the constitution, the Armenian President cannot keep his post for more than two terms.
- After the independence of Armenia on 21 September 1991, Levon Ter-Petrosyan became the first president of the independent state till 1998.
- He was followed by Robert Kocharyan who was the Armenian president till 2008.
- In that same year Serzh Sargsyan won the presidential elections and was reelected for his second term in 2013.
What will Happen when the New Constitution Kicks Off?
On December 6, 2015, a referendum was held in Armenia concerning constitutional reforms. In fact, 63.37% voted for the reforms. This changed the form of government from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic. We hurry to inform you; the current Armenian President receives a legal right to remain in power until his second presidential term ends.
Some questions may arise, like: What kind of impact do these changes have on the role of the Armenian president? What will be the role of the next president after the reforms? Well, as a result, the new president of Armenia will no longer be elected by popular vote. From then on, the Armenian president will be elected by the votes of the members of the National Assembly.
The real power will be exercised by the supreme legislative body and the government. Simply put, parliamentary elections will play a more significant role and will be the key political event in Armenia.
This means that Prime minister will become the real leader of the country, just like the Chancellor of Germany, or Prime minister of Canada. You don’t even know the names of their presidents, do you?
Current Armenian President
Currently, Serzh Sargsyan is the president of the Republic of Armenia. Let’s briefly scroll down through the timeline of his career and understand what lead him to the president’s post.
He served in the Soviet Armed Forces during the years of 1972-1974. The Armenian President’s wife and, correspondingly, the first lady of Armenia is Rita Sargsyan, with whom Serzh Sargsyan has two daughters. Serzh Sargsyan is a member and the Chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia.
During his political career path, he has served in different posts:
- Minister of Defense
- Minister of National Security
- The Chief of Staff for the Armenian President Robert Kocharyan
- The Secretary of the National Security Council
- Prime Minister
Contradictions and Accomplishments of Serzh Sargsyan’s Office
Both of Serzh Sargsyan’s terms were not the smoothest ones. After his first election in 2008, huge demonstrations occurred by the opposition and their supporters. Eventually, on March 1st, it ended up with a bloody fight between the protesters and police, resulting death of 10 people, including police officers.
Second reelection of Sargsyan was also accompanied by demonstrations and protests by the opposition and its supporters. Luckily, this time there were no victims, but still it was impossible to avoid clashes between police and the protesters.
There were also many accomplishments during Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency. During the years in his post, he has built as strong ties with both European and Russian partners. The ties with Europe and Russia were economic, political, cultural and humanitarian.
It was during his presidency that Armenia entered The Eurasian Economic Union and also signed many agreements with EU, USA and NATO about current and future cooperation.
The opinions about Serzh Sargsyan’s diplomacy in terms of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution are very diverse and contradictory. Some find that he failed to put Armenia’s and Nagorno-Karabakh’s interests first and gave in to Russian politics. Others think that he did a great job and it was the maximum to what we could achieve under very difficult geopolitical circumstances.
The Most Influential Political Leaders in Armenia Since the Independence
Levon Ter-Petrosyan: The First Armenian President
Levon Ter-Petrosyan was, undoubtedly, one of the well-known political leaders after the independence. He was elected as the first Armenian President in 1991 with overwhelming public support. He was re-elected for his second term, but because of disagreements with the key government members, Ter-Petrosyan resigned in 1998.
Nevertheless, he made a political comeback in 2007 and ran for presidency in 2008. But as we already know, that year Serzh Sargsyan became the Armenian president. However, Ter-Petrosyan claimed that the elections were rigged. This led many of his supporters into mass protests that required new elections.
After a week of protests the government used not only the police, but also military force for scattering his supporters. Levon Ter-Petrosyan is also the founder of the Armenian National Congress Party (in 2008) that is now one of the main opposition parties in Armenia.
Robert Kocharyan: The Second Armenian President
Robert Kocharyan was and, surely, continues to be one of the most famous and influential political leaders of Armenia. He served as the second president of independent Armenia during the years of 1998 and 2008. Previously, he was the President of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic between 1994 -1997.
From 1997 to 1998 Robert Kocharyan was appointed as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. It is said that during his presidency the economy of Armenia annually grew by 12% on average. As Serzh Sargsyan, Robert Kocharyan was born in Stepanakert as well and served in the USSR armed forces.
According to some observers, Kocharyan focused on Europe. In particular, he announced several times that he sees Armenia as a country that is based on the European values and on the European model of governance. Under his presidency, Armenia joined the Council of Europe (2001) and the WTO (2003).
But, at the same time the media outlined the pro-Russian course of Kocharyan’s politics as well. Notably, he actively contributed to the development of Armenian-Russian business relations. Most often his image in the public is associated with strength and security.
Vazgen Sargsyan: Supreme Commander and National Hero
It won’t be any kind of exaggeration if we say that Vazgen Sargsyan was one of the most beloved and outstanding political leaders of Armenia. The Armenian nation has given him the honorable Sparapet (supreme commander) title for being the founder of the Armenian Army and for his significant contribution for the establishment of the independent Armenia.
In his not so long career, he managed to become the military commander and the first Defense Minister of Armenia. He also served as a Prime Minister until 1999. During the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Sargsyan became the most prominent commander and one of the most successful leaders of Armenian forces.
Unfortunately, Vazgen Sargsyan and several other MPs were assassinated in the Armenian parliament shooting of 27 October 1999. Vazgen Sargsyan’s death was a great loss for the Armenian people. He is a national hero and one of the rare Armenian leaders who was truly loved and honored by the public.
Andranik Margaryan: Prime Minister and Founder of the Republican Party
Andranik Margaryan was the longest-serving Prime Minister of Armenia (2000-2007). He was a member of the Republican Party of Armenia and had a great influence on the ideology of the party. Alongside with politics he also followed a career in the field of scientific research.
In his political life, he criticized the Soviet totalitarian system and saw the future of Armenia and its people only in the condition of democratic and independent state. Being one of the most beloved and admired political leaders in the history of independent Armenia, Margaryan died of a heart attack in 2007.
Political Leader #5: Karen Demirchyan
Soviet Armenian politician Karen Demirchyan was the First Secretary of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic until 1988. After the independence of Armenia, he became the speaker of the Armenian parliament.
He has a huge legacy in Armenia. A school, Yerevan metro and a big sport and concert complex are named in his honor. Unfortunately, along with Vazgen Sargsyan, he was killed in 1999 Armenian parliament shooting. Till today this remains a subject of various conspiracy theories and people can’t accept and tolerate the great loss of these two outstanding political leaders.
Nikol Pashinyan: The Ultimate Oppositional
Nikol Pashinyan is an Armenian journalist, publicist and one of the most famous political figures, who is always on the spotlight. He is the former editor of Armenia’s newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak (The Armenian Times).
The Newspaper is known for its critical opinions about the governments of two Armenian Presidents, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan. In 2008 Pashinyan stood by the side of the first Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan and was one of the main leaders of March 1st protests. However, he later quitted Ter-Petrosyan’s party.
In 2012 he was elected as the MP of the National Assembly of Armenia. He is one of the most important and influential opposition leaders in Armenia.
Raffi Hovannisian: Pro-Western Politician of Armenia
American-born Armenian politician, Raffi Hovannisian was the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia. He is the founder of the Heritage party that earned over 81,000 votes (6% of the popular vote) in the 2007 parliamentary election.
Raffi Hovannisian was one of the main opposition candidates in 2013 presidential elections. It is important to note, that he came second with 37% of the vote (539,672 votes). This is quite an impressing result, as the other candidates earned only 4% and even less. Furthermore, the elected Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan received 59% of the vote.
After some days of the election, protests took place throughout Armenia that urged the Armenian president to concede his defeat. The movement is known as “Barevolution (the mix of “barev” that means hello and revolution), because Hovhannisyan liked to greet and shake hands with the people during the protests and the election campaign.
Garegin Nzhdeh: The Father-Founder of Armenian Nationalist Ideology
Even though the leader we’re going to speak about never lived during the independence of Armenia, he can never be dismissed in the conversation about Armenian leaders.
Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan, better known as Garegin Nzhdeh, was a well-known military strategist. He is the father-founder of the ideology of today’s Armenian Statehood. Nzhdeh was involved in the liberation struggle of the country and revolutionary activities during the World War I.
He was such a charismatic political and military leader and national hero that people admire him till today. The Republican Party’s ideology is based on Armenian nationalist (in Armenian; Tseghakron) ideology that was formulated and developed by Garegin Nzhdeh.
Garegin Nzhdeh is the role model of every Armenian patriot. Many people believe; if it was not for Nzhdeh, the Republic of Armenia would not exist today! In 2001 it was the 115th anniversary of Garegin Nzhdeh and it was celebrated at the state level.
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