YEREVAN — President Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday pledged to “modernize” Armenia’s army through a seven-year plan of actions which he said will be launched less than three months before he completes his final presidential term in April.
“A drastic modernization of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia is imperative now,” Sarkisian told senior military officials in Yerevan. “That is dictated by both current and future challenges.”
“Today I am setting the task of drawing up a new seven-year program of modernizing the army for 2018-2015. We must turn that program into reality jointly: me, as the commander-in-chief, the defense minister, the army top brass, our soldiers, and the entire society,” he said in a speech delivered at an Armenian Defense Ministry think-tank.
“After discussions and amendments, we will approve the program on January 28, 2018, namely on the [26th] birthday anniversary of our army,” he added, describing the planned document as “one of the most important, if not the most important, tasks of our state at this stage.”
The president addressed top military officials the day after delivering a speech at a meeting with the leadership of the Armenian police. He met with high-ranking officials from another law-enforcement body, the Investigative Committee, on October 9.
Sarkisian said on Tuesday that the new defense plan will call, among other things, for sizable annual increases in defense spending. “You are well aware that the quantity and quality of our weapons has drastically improved in the last several years,” he said. “These efforts will be continuous. Every year we will have new and substantial achievements in this area.”
The draft state budget for next year unveiled by Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s cabinet late last month would increase Armenia’s defense spending by about 18 percent to 247 billion drams ($515 million).
Sarkisian said that the defense plan will also detail measures to support Armenia’s defense industry and improve the social welfare of military personnel and medical services provided to them.