Jan. 24 (UPI) — Armenian President Armen Sarkissian announced Sunday that he was resigning, citing a lack of tools afforded his position by the Constitution to aid the country suffering amid a national crisis.
The 69-year-old politician and former Armenian prime minister from 1996-97 was elected by lawmakers to the mostly ceremonial role in 2018 for a seven-year term that was to end in 2025.
But he announced his decision to resign in a statement Sunday, stating he had been thinking about doing so for a long time.
“That decision is not emotional at all, and it follows a certain logic,” he said.
The decision follows Armenia losing disputed territory to Azerbaijan following fighting between the countries in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in late 2020.
Sarkissian then clashed with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as the latter moved to replace the general staff of the Armed Forces with Artak Davtyan in the wake of the defeat, local ARKA News Agency reported at the time.
Pashinyan, who has executive power in the country, was facing calls to resign when Sarkissian refused to sign off on his appointment.
Sarkissian was among those calling on Pashinyan to resign, urging him to step down in a November 2020 speech titled “It is possible to lose the battle, but it is inadmissible to lose the nation.”
Davtyan was appointed the following March.
“We have a paradoxical situation when the president has to be the guarantor of statehood without actually having any real tools,” Sarkissian said Sunday. “We are a parliamentary republic in form, but not in content.”
The former ambassador to Britain said that some might wonder why he didn’t resign earlier, stating that the answer is obvious: “Because of the responsibility I took on as president of the republic.”
“I was obliged to do everything in my power to avoid the further deepening of the internal division and possible clashes, which could have extremely negative consequences,” he said. “I also sought to use the prestige and connections gained through my work of many years and my international political-economic potential, to build a strong and stable state.”
He continued that despite his efforts he failed to influence political events that led to the current national crisis because of the lack of “appropriate tools” given to the president under the constitution.
“We live in a unique reality, a reality where the president cannot influence matters of war or peace. A reality when he cannot veto the laws he considers inexpedient for the state and the people. A reality when the president’s opportunities are perceived not as an advantage for the state but as a threat by various political groups.”
“The president does not have the necessary tools to influence the radical processes of domestic and foreign policy in these difficult times for the country and the nation,” he said.
The President of the National Assembly, Alen Simonyan, will be given the powers of the president until an election can be held, Armenia News reported.