Gazprom executive nominated as Armenian PM

Karen Karapetyan, an executive for the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, is likely to become the next prime minister of Armenia after receiving support from his party and the president.

Photo by: Press service of the Armenian President
Photo by: Press service of the Armenian President

Former Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan and his potential replacement Karen Karapetyan. (File photo)

Armenia’s ruling Republican Party (RPA) has nominated former ArmRosGazprom head Karen Karapetyan to replace outgoing Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, who tendered his resignation on Thursday.

The 53-year-old technocrat, who also served as the mayor of the Armenian capital Yerevan, is expected to lead the South Caucasus country in undertaking groundbreaking reforms to ease tensions.

President Serzh Sargsyan has already called for a "a government of national accord" following months of domestic strife arising from political divisions.

Former Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan.

In June, a two-week standoff between security forces and a group of armed men who seized a police station in Yerevan left two police officers dead.

The gunmen took hostages while demanding the release of a jailed opposition politician amid street demonstrations calling for the government’s resignation.

Riot police clash with demonstrators who had gathered in a show of support for gunmen holding several hostages in a police station in Yerevan, Armenia, July 20, 2016.

Abrahamyan stepped down after two years in power. His reign was largely marred by an economic slowdown, which saw growth slow to 3 percent in 2015 from 3.5 percent in 2014.

Growth in 2016 is forecast to drop even lower to 2.2 percent - a direct result of an economic downturn in Russia.

Armenia’s 3.2 million people are heavily dependent on Russian investment. Armenian exports to Russia have also hit by the recession.

Karapetyan, a former Moscow resident and one-time vice-president of Russia’s state-owned Gazprombank, needs approval from the National Assembly before taking on the post of premier.

He is currently the deputy CEO of Gazprom's Mezhregiongaz unit.

Speaking to reporters after a party session, RPA Deputy Chairman Armen Ashotyan said that Karapetyan had been nominated unanimously.

He has also received the backing of President Sargsyan, who at the RPA board meeting praised Karapetyan’s “abilities and working ethic.”

Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan.

“I am convinced Karen Karapetyan will be able to become that unique symbol of change by his effective work. He will be able to lead all the developments by the path defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, that is to say, through modern approaches,” Sargsyan said.

Should he take on the role, Karapetyan’s government is likely to be temporary until the next parliamentary election in 2017.

Armenia is also on track to transition from a semi-presidential form of government to a parliamentary republic in 2018.

TRTWorld and agencies