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Pashinian In No Rush To Name New Foreign Minister


Armenia - The Armenian Foreign Ministry building, Yerevan.

The post of Armenia’s foreign minister will likely remain vacant at least until the parliamentary elections scheduled for June 20, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Its last holder, Ara Ayvazian, stepped down on May 27 following an emergency meeting of the country’s Security Council which discussed mounting tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Ayvazian was formally relieved of his duties on Monday hours after addressing the Armenian Foreign Ministry staff at a farewell meeting. The outgoing foreign minister hinted that he decided to quit because of disagreeing with government decisions which he believes could put the country’s sovereignty and national security at risk. He did not go into details.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian challenged Ayvazian to publicly clarify “who, where and how was going to take some steps or to make decisions contradicting our country’s national and state interests.”

ARMENIA -- Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian speaks at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Yerevan, May 6, 2021
ARMENIA -- Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian speaks at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Yerevan, May 6, 2021

Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian similarly said on Tuesday that Ayvazian should elaborate on his concerns.

Grigorian insisted that there are no threats to Armenia’s territorial integrity emanating from the Pashinian government’s ongoing or planned talks with Azerbaijan. He specifically denied any secret deals on the demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Grigorian also dismissed Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s continuing claims about the impending creation of a transport “corridor” that will connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave through Armenia’s Syunik province. He said Yerevan and Baku and Yerevan have only discussed the opening of transport links between the two states envisaged by a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We are talking about our sovereign infrastructures in case of the unblocking [transport routes,]” he told reporters.

Armenia - Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian.
Armenia - Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian.

A government spokesperson told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that Pashinian is unlikely to appoint a new foreign minister before the upcoming elections. The ministerial duties will be performed by one of Armenia’s deputy foreign ministers in the meantime, the official said without naming him.

Ayvazian had four deputies. One of them, Gagik Ghalachian, also tendered his resignation on May 27.

Like other cabinet members, Ayvazian technically held the ministerial post in an acting capacity after the government stepped down in April to pave the way for the snap polls. Some lawyers believe that Armenian law does not allow the replacement of acting ministers.

“Whether or not this is legally permissible, it’s hard to imagine anyone agreeing to become acting minister now, especially with only 19 days to go before the elections,” said Beniamin Poghosian, a political analyst.

Poghosian suggested that career diplomats like Ayvazian must be especially reluctant to replace him even temporarily given his “serious differences” with Pashinian.

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