Ghevondian and the three other deputy ministers 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 signaled strong objections to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s policies relating to national security.
Three of Ayvazian’s deputies -- Artak Apitonian, Avet Adonts and Gagik Ghalachian -- were formally relieved of their duties on Tuesday. By contrast, Ghevondian’s resignation was not accepted, meaning that he will run the Foreign Ministry for the time being.
The career diplomat attended on Thursday a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. He told reporters afterwards that his resignation still stands.
Ghevondian also said that all four vice-ministers tendered their resignations for the same reason.
“Because we said that generally the Foreign Ministry must have a greater involvement in foreign policy decision making,” he said when asked reveal that reason. He declined to elaborate.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian, who chaired the cabinet meeting, said Ghevondian’s letter of resignation was not approved because “the Foreign Ministry could not have been left without anyone performing the minister’s duties.”
Avinian refused to comment on Ayvazian’s resignation. “Let Mr. Ayvazian tell whether or not he had disagreements,” he said, adding that Pashinian has always consulted with Armenia’s top diplomats before making key foreign policy decisions.
In his farewell remarks, Ayvazian urged diplomats to avoid implementing policies jeopardizing Armenia’s sovereignty and national security.
“The reason for my decision to resign was to make sure that there are never any suspicions that this ministry could take some steps or agree to some ideas, initiatives going against our statehood and national interests,” the outgoing foreign minister said in a speech greeted with rapturous applause.
Ayvazian has since repeatedly refused to elaborate on his apparent concerns. Armenian prosecutors have instructed the National Security Service to examine his speech and see if it warrants a criminal investigation.
Speaking at the May 27 meeting of the Security Council, Pashinian called for the deployment of international observers along contested portions of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Critics denounced the proposal, accusing Pashinian of failing to defend Armenia against foreign aggression and plotting to cede Armenian territory to Baku. The prime minister dismissed those claims.