YEREVAN — Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Armen Gevorgian, who was once the top aide to former President Robert Kocharian, stepped down on Thursday for reasons that were not immediately clear.
His resignation was formally announced and accepted at a weekly meeting of Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s cabinet.
“Mr. Gevorgian wants to continue his work in the private sector and will cooperate with our government later on,” Abrahamian told cabinet members. “I want to thank him for the joint work and wish Mr. Gevorgian success.”
Gevorgian, who has also served as minister for local government for the past six years, did not clarify the reasons for his resignation or his immediate plans in his farewell remarks. “I want to thank my colleagues, friends, international organizations and the president of the republic for working with me during all these years,” he said at the cabinet meeting. “I am leaving with a great sense of satisfaction and hope that my knowledge and skills will continue to serve our common cause.”
Gevorgian, 41, has held the two ministerial positions ever since Kocharian handed over power to President Serzh Sarkisian in April 2008. He was the chief of Kocharian’s staff from 2006-2008.
Gevorgian first joined the government in 1997, at the age of 24, as an assistant to then Prime Minister Kocharian. He became Kocharian’s reputedly most trusted confidante in the following years.
The vice-premier’s resignation, which was predicted by some media outlets in the past several days, may therefore be linked by some commentators to Kocharian’s deepening rift with Sarkisian, his erstwhile political ally. The ex-president has increasingly criticized his successor’s track record in the last two years, fuelling speculation about his imminent political comeback. There have been suggestions that Kocharian might return to active politics through the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of Gagik Tsarukian.
Recent media reports also alleged that Gevorgian had fallen out with the rest of the government leadership over the controversial decision to reappoint Surik Khachatrian to the gubernatorial position in Armenia’s southern province of Syunik. The move has been criticized by the opposition and civil society representatives who see Khachatrian’s role in the June 2013 deadly shooting near his house in Goris that admittedly served as an occasion for his resignation.
Unlike most of the other ministers, Gevorgian is not affiliated with Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia.