Vigen Sargsyan as civilian defense minister, and Edward Nalbandian as re-appointed FM - Armenian expert on latest cabinet reshuffle

19:49 • 04.10.16



In an interview with Tert.am, political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan, Director of the Caucasus Institute, commented on Vigen Sargsyan’s appointment as Armenia’s minister of defense.

“A classical western model has been applied, with the minister as a political figure and civilian rather than a career serviceman. There is a saying: war is too serious a matter to entrust to military men. It implies political control over the army,” Mr Iskandaryan said.

This model is effectively working in many countries.

Mr Iskandaryan pointed civilians once held the post of Armenia’s defense minister.

“Armenia had achievements in military construction when civilians were defense ministers – Vazgen Manukyan, Vazgen Sargsyan, Serzh Sargsyan. That is, they were not career servicemen.”

As to the advisability of a civilian being appointed as Armenia’s minister of defense with an unsettled conflict, Mr Iskandaryan said that physicist Vazgen Manukyan was Armenia’s minister of defense e in 1993, when the war raged.

“But the actions were quite successful,” he said.

Vigen Sargsyan is sufficiently experienced in administration.

“He is widely experienced in collaborating with Russian political figures, which is important as Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and is being supplied with weapons. The country needs cooperation in a number of security issues, and he is sufficiently experienced,” the expert said.

With respect to Seyran Ohanyan’s release from the post of Armenia’s minister of defense, Mr Iskandaryan said that this fact and Vigen Sargsyan’s appointment are different things.

“The defense minister could be expected to resign after the April escalation. I was not sure, but I did not rule it out either. Yes, I expected Vigen Sargsyan to be appointed. I expected a new minister to be appointed and the man was most probably to be a member of the presidential team,” Mr Iskandaryan said.

Many lessons can be drawn from the April escalation.

Mr Iskandaryan points out indicators of reforms, particularly reforms on the border and on the Line of Contact, arms purchase and ammunition supplies, as well as in cooperation with Russia.

“And the changes involve personnel as well. And this is not the first personnel change in Armenia’s defense office. In short, we are seeing a cabinet reshuffle and a sweeping reshuffle of the entire political machine,” Mr Iskandaryan said.

With respect to Edward Nalbandian’s re-appointment as Armenia’s foreign minister, the expert said:

“There is such widespread discontent in Armenia that it is voiced with all political figures. Once a person engages in politics, he gives rise to discontent. The Armenian political system has extremely low ratings, with distrust of all political figures and government agencies. And in this respect, Armenia’s foreign office and Minister Edward Nalbandian are not an exception. There was discontent with the whole government,” Mr Iskandaryan said.

Although unaware of the reasons for Edward Nalbandian’s re-appointment, Mr Iskandaryan considers him an efficient administrator.

“He has been head of the foreign office for a long period. He has well-tested methods to work in different countries and it may have helped him. But the fact is that he is one of the key figures in the cabinet,” Mr Iskandaryan said.





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