By Hrant Aleksanian in Stepanakert
Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian sacked late on Friday the self-proclaimed republic’s foreign minister, Naira Melkumian, replacing her by one of his closest confidantes.
The new minister, Ashot Ghulian, is the leader of the pro-Ghukasian Democratic Artsakh Movement (ZhAM) party which controls the Karabakh parliament. Ghulian, 37, served as deputy foreign minister in 2000-2001.
Meeting with the foreign ministry staff, Ghukasian denied having any differences with Melkumian, and claimed that she herself sought resignation “for family reasons.” He praised Melkumian’s five-year track record and announced that she will now work as his foreign policy advisor based in Yerevan.
According to some Armenian press reports, the Karabakh leader had long been trying to ditch his foreign minister but faced strong objections from Armenia’s Karabakh-born President Robert Kocharian.
Ghulian is the only newcomer in the 14-member Karabakh cabinet appointed by in the course of this week. Only one of its members, Armen Sarkisian, is affiliated with the local branch of the influential Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), which endorsed Ghukasian’s reelection last August. He previously oversaw culture and youth affairs and will now be responsible for education as well.
Some local Dashnaktsutyun leaders had earlier indicated that they were promised greater representation in the Stepanakert executive in exchange for their decision not to field a presidential candidate.