On March 2 the name of the fourth president of Armenia became known though technically the parliamentary election was a formality and it had been clear earlier that the nominee of the majority Armen Sarkissian would receive the votes to be elected in the first round.
Under the new model of governance the fourth president does not have the same authority as the previous three presidents. In the current situation, this is the most frequently asked question to Armen Sarkissian, aside from the question about citizenship.
Armen Sarkissian has defined the core of his authority – the power of word – saying that power is not only the administrative levers but also ideas, vision, thoughts. It is beyond doubt that even such authority requires resources, and Armen Sarkissian expects to reinforce this core of authority with the economic, political and diplomatic resource that he has stored throughout his activities abroad, including during his diplomatic service.
What will Sarkissian achieve? The issue of the fourth president is not isolated from the domestic life of Armenia and is part of deep systemic transformations. For their part, they are influenced by not only internal setting and individual desires but also big external changes which go on in the world and around Armenia posing great riskss and opening up opportunities.
In the concept of the “power of word” Armen Sarkissian has already taken two core steps making two fundamental statements which can be seen as civil and political signals.
The point is about his statement on being the first president of the fourth republic of Armenia, as well as his statement about the need to participate in the negotiations on Artsakh with an approach of wanting everything.
Armen Sarkissian stated, of course, that the expression “fourth republic” is a metaphor and does not have a direct meaning. Of course, it is a little strange that there are people who accepted that statement with the direct sense. Armen Sargsyan announces that it is impossible to change the ruling system of the third republic because it is not just a system of bad people but a system with deep faults and failures which cannot undergo fundamental quality changes.
Either this system exists or not. Armen Sarkissian’s message on the metaphor of fourth republic is that we must start building the new system to replace the old one otherwise it is impossible to remove or redesign the existing one, and removing it without having an alternative is full of serious risks, considering the security risks of Armenia.
Technically, the metaphor of the fourth republic is a new civil and political system, a proposal of new thinking because every system is first of all worldview, values.
For the part of the Artsakh conflict, Armen Sarkissian is making an unprecedented statement, saying that one must participate in every negotiation with a position that lets the other party know you are negotiating to take everything.
Sarkissian’s statement differs fundamentally from the approach to the Artsakh issue over the past two decades when the process is built on the readiness to give away something, which has allowed Azerbaijan to demand something more. The deep consequence was the deadlock, the semi-legitimate right of Azerbaijan to the April war which was challenged by the strong alliance between the armed forces and the society of Armenia.
However, if Armenia does not change the philosophy of the negotiations, the situation may eventually lead to international legitimacy. Hence, the solution of the problem for Armenia is not to strengthen the defense but to change the political concept to make sure that the weight of peace and security does not fall on the military component.
The public response to Armen Sarkissian’s fundamental statements is not tangible. At the same time, this may be an objective situation in the Armenian setting. Armen Sarkissian will need to work hard on improving the level of tangibility. Technically, he has nothing else to do. Here is where his power starts. Otherwise, all will end there.