By Emil Danielyan
President Robert Kocharian appointed on Friday his press secretary, Vahe Gabrielian, as Armenia’s new ambassador to Britain -- a major diplomatic post that has been vacant for nearly seven months.
Gabrielian, 37, has been Kocharian’s spokesman and interpreter since 1998 and has also taught English language and literature at Yerevan State University. A philologist by training, he studied at the Davidson College in the U.S. state of North Carolina and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in the early 1990s.
Gabrielian will replace career diplomat Vahram Abajian who served as Armenian ambassador in London from January 2001 through September 2002. Motives for his dismissal remain unknown.
Abajian’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Armen Sarkisian, had been sacked by Kocharian in April 2000, at the height of a bitter power struggle in Yerevan that followed the October 1999 parliament shootings. Sarkisian, who continues to live in London, has close ties with Vache Manukian, a British-based millionaire businessman of Armenian descent.
Manukian, who also has business interests in Armenia, used to be a key financial contributor to the Armenian mission in the United Kindgom. Sarkisian’s controversial sacking reportedly ended his close rapport with Kocharian.