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Party Newcomers Take Cabinet Posts In Armenia

Emergency Situations Minister Armen Yeritsian says he will familiarize himself with the party's platform.
Armenia's Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law) party has named two men to government ministry portfolios -- even though neither had any link to the party until now.

Transportation Minister Manuk Vartanian and Emergency Situations Minister Armen Yeritsian were named to their ministerial posts on March 15, taking two of the party’s three positions in the cabinet.

Some commentators believe the ministerial changes were initiated by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, who allowed Orinats Yerkir to save face by naming the ministers, but ensured that the posts went to politicians loyal to the president.

Orinats Yekir once held the second-largest faction in the Armenian parliament, but has suffered a sharp decline in influence.

RFE/RL's Armenian Service spoke to Yeritsian, a former police general, soon after his appointment. The new minister said Orinats Yerkir party leader Artur Baghdasarian “is an old friend of mine.... There was an offer from my friend and I accepted it.”

Despite his short history with Orinats Yerkir, Yeritsian claimed to be familiar with the party's platform. But when asked to single out any of its provisions, he replied: “I can’t talk about that today.... I will familiarize myself with the party’s platform in greater detail and will probably be able to answer your question in a few months.”

-- Michael Hirshman

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