Grigorian, 38, is a member of the ruling Civil Contract party. He graduated from the Department of International Relations of Yerevan State University and later from the American University of Armenia, but has no experience of diplomatic work.
Grigorian coordinated electoral programs for the anti-corruption organization, Transparency International, before becoming one of the key figures of Armenia’s 2018 “Velvet Revolution.” He was appointed secretary of the Security Council after the revolution.
Chief of Pashinian’s staff Arayik Harutiunian introduced Grigorian to the staff of the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday. In his remarks he expressed confidence that Grigorian will encompass the tasks set to him by the government.
Grigorian, for his part, said that he was convinced that “we will jointly implement all the tasks outlined in the electoral program of the Civil Contract party that will also be reflected in the government’s program.”
Armenia has had no foreign minister since May 31. In his farewell speech to the ministry staff former Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian made it clear that he had resigned because of policy disagreements with Pashinian.
“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,” he said.
Later it was Grigorian who accused Ayvazian of torpedoing the government work on the repatriation of Armenian prisoners of war from Azerbaijan by lying that Yerevan had no minefield maps that it could pass on to the Azerbaijani side.
Ayvazian’s resignation was followed by the resignations of all four of his deputies. The resignation of one deputy minister, Armen Ghevondian, was not accepted by the government and he continued to serve not to leave the ministry without the leadership altogether.
Lawmaker Artur Hovannisian, a member of the Civil Contract party, confirmed that Grigorian is also their candidate for the post of foreign minister. He said that there was a discussion within the party on this issue. “There are difficult processes that we must go through, and, yes, we need people who can make decisions in difficult situations based on the interests of the Republic of Armenia and implement these decisions,” he said.
For the first time since coming to power Pashinian has made an appointment in the Foreign Ministry, bypassing the diplomatic corps. Acting Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian said that “the political appointment is needed for establishing a certain connection between the diplomatic corps and the political leadership in order to remove the differences that have existed to some extent.” “I think that on the whole this is a positive appointment,” Avinian said.
Grigorian was one of the few officials who criticized the decision of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) not to support Armenia in its current border standoff with Azerbaijan, advising that the CSTO’s secretary-general show restraint in his public remarks.
Political analyst Armen Baghdasarian believes that if Grigorian is appointed foreign minister, there will be drastic changes as Armenia will start pursuing a pro-Western foreign policy.
“Considering his track record, his numerous statements, I think it will be very difficult for him to pursue a pro-Russian foreign policy. In case of a sharp change in Armenia’s foreign policy, Russia will try to react as harshly as possible,” Baghdasarian said.
Baghdasarian believes that career diplomats would not agree to cardinal changes in Armenia’s foreign policy, so Pashinian has been looking for a candidate for the top post outside the Foreign Ministry.
“It is searching for and finding allies that is the main task of diplomacy. But Armenia’s dependence on Russia today in all respects, and primarily in the security sphere, is so great that I think it would not be a reasonable decision to appoint someone whom Russia absolutely does not trust,” he said.