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Resignations Of Top Armenian Diplomats Accepted


Armenia - Outgoing Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian addresses Armenian Foreign Ministry staff, Yerevan, May 31, 2021.

Three of Armenia’s four deputy foreign ministers, who have tendered their resignations due to apparent disagreements with the government, were formally relieved of their duties on Tuesday.

All four diplomats decided to resign after Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian stepped down on May 27 following an emergency session of the Armenian government’s Security Council which discussed mounting tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

At a May 31 farewell meeting the Armenian Foreign Ministry staff, Ayvazian hinted that he disagrees with government decisions which he believes could put the country’s sovereignty and national security at risk.

One of Ayvazian’s deputies, Gagik Ghalachian, also handed in his resignation on May 27. The Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday that the three other vice-ministers -- Artak Apitonian, Avet Adonts and Armen Ghevondian -- followed suit.

Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian, who is currently filling in for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian campaigning for the June 20 parliamentary elections, accepted the resignations of Adonts, Apitonian and Ghalachian on Tuesday.

It was not clear whether Avinian refused to approve Ghevondian’s letter of resignation and whether the latter intends to continue performing his duties. The Foreign Ministry did not comment on that.

Neither Pashinian nor key members of his administration have made any public statements on the unprecedented resignations. A government spokesperson said last week that the post of foreign minister will likely remain vacant at least until the elections.

“When such experienced diplomats leave the system … it can only testify to the existence of a crisis,” said Armine Margarian, a political analyst who worked at the Foreign Ministry and the Security Council from 2005-2018.

“This is an extremely dangerous situation,” Margarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. She pointed to grave security challenges facing Armenia after last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Speaking at the May 27 meeting of the Security Council, Pashinian called for the deployment of international observers along contested portions of the frontier where Armenian and Azerbaijani troops remain locked in a standoff.

Critics denounced the proposal, accusing Pashinian of failing to defend Armenia against foreign aggression and plotting to cede Armenian territory to Baku. Ayvazian’s May 31 remarks gave Pashinian’s detractors more ammunition.

Pashinian’s press secretary challenged the outgoing minister last week 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.”

Ayvazian has declined to do that so far. His deputies have likewise avoided publicly explaining their resignations.

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