Europe

Armenia profile - Leaders

  • 9 March 2015
  • From the section Europe

President: Serge Sarkisian

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Image caption President Serge Sarkisian's 2008 win was followed by deadly clashes

Serge Sarkisian won a second term in office in February 2013, with official preliminary results giving him more than 58% of the vote. His nearest rival, Raffi Hovannisian, received just over 36%. Mr Hovannisian rejected the outcome.

International observers said the polls lacked real competition. Several leading candidates had chosen not to run, saying they feared that the poll would be skewed in Mr Sarkisian's favour.

The economy was a key campaign issue; Mr Sarkisian oversaw a return to growth during his first term.

Serge Sarkisian became president in 2008, winning in the first round with 52.9% of the vote. Deadly street protests ensued, with opposition supporters saying the poll was rigged.

Europe's main election monitoring body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the vote had mostly met international standards.

Outgoing President and close ally, Robert Kocharian, handpicked the then prime minister to succeed him after Mr Sarkisian's Republican Party swept parliamentary polls in May 2007.

Serge Sarkisian was a Soviet soldier and later worked in the defence-committee of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. He was then appointed Armenia's minister of defence. He had a spell as minister of national security and head of the presidential staff before returning to the defence ministry.

In 2009, he signed signed a historic deal to re-establish diplomatic ties with Turkey, but ratification on both sides has been held up by opposition from nationalists.

A decision by Mr Sarkisian to withdraw the deal from parliament in 2015 - criticised as "erroneous" by Turkey - was widely seen as effectively burying the accord for the foreseeable future.

Mr Sarkisian was born in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1954.