The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan heaped praise on Karen Andreasian, Armenia’s human rights ombudsman, on Wednesday when it officially reacted to his unexpected resignation.
“We note with regret Karen Andreasian’s decision to step down as Armenia’s Human Rights Ombudsman,” the embassy said in a statement. “He has been a tireless and effective champion for those who were defenseless; those who feared their voices might be silenced if they voiced unpopular messages; and any Armenian who fought for his or her rights as a citizen to be respected.
“We wish him the greatest success in his future endeavors. He will remain a friend, colleague, and contact of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Government.”
The statement also praised the “professionalism and dedication” of Andreasian’s staff, calling the ombudsman’s office an “invaluable Armenian institution.” “We are committed to maintaining our close cooperation and partnership with the Office and its staff on issues related to the protection of human rights in Armenia,” it said.
The U.S. mission did not comment on the resignation itself. It said instead that it looks forward to working with Andreasian’s successor that will be chosen by the Armenian parliament.
Andreasian has given no clear reasons for his unexpected decision to step down, which was announced on January 12. Armenian commentators have linked the move with his public spats with senior members of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
The ombudsman was attacked by several HHK parliamentarians in October when he presented the National Assembly with an annual report on his activities. He denounced the harsh criticism as a smear campaign ordered by an unnamed government-linked individual.
Andreasian faced similar verbal attacks from Armen Ashotian, the education minister and a deputy chairman of the HHK, later in 2015. He dismissed them as baseless.
The HHK leadership has denied forcing Andreasian to resign.