Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Friday appointed the Armenian-born former mayor of Glendale, a city in Los Angeles County, as head of a newly formed government division tasked with coordinating Armenia’s relations with its worldwide Diaspora.
Pashinian created the post of “commissioner general of Diaspora affairs” after abolishing the Ministry of Diaspora as part of a recent restructuring of the Armenian government. The first commissioner, Zareh Sinanyan, will have a 25-member staff.
Sinanyan, 43, was born in Soviet Armenia and lived there until emigrating to the United States with his family in 1988. He served as mayor of Glendale, a city with a sizable ethnic Armenian population, from 2014-2015 and 2018. Sinanyan resigned from the Glendale city council last week ahead of his anticipated appointment to the new government position in Yerevan.
A vocal critic of Armenia’s former government, Sinanyan strongly supported last year’s “velvet revolution” which brought Pashinian to power. In a May 2018 interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, he suggested that many Diaspora Armenians will be ready to move to their ancestral homeland after the revolution.
“We must change our policy towards the Diaspora and make it more effective,” Pashinian told Sinanyan when they met later on Friday. He said his government will seek to increase the Diaspora’s involvement in Armenia’s economic, social and even political life.
“You are not an unknown figure in Armenia and the Diaspora, and I think that there is a good chance that we will accomplish our new tasks set in the new era,” added Pashinian.
Sinanyan spoke, for his part, of “huge potential” for the Diaspora’s closer ties with Armenia as well as Nagorno-Karabakh.