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New Armenian Foreign Minister Still Not Appointed


Armenia - The Foreign Ministry building in Yerevan.

More than two months after the resignation of Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian and his four deputies, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has still not handpicked Armenia’s new top diplomat.

All other members of Pashinian’s reshuffled cabinet were appointed last week.

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 with the Armenian Foreign Ministry staff, he signaled strong objections to Pashinian’s policies relating to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and national security.

All of Ayvazian’s four deputies tendered their resignations in the following days. Three of them -- Artak Apitonian, Avet Adonts and Gagik Ghalechian -- were formally relieved of their duties on June 8.

Armenia - Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian delivers a farewell address to senior Foreign Ministry officials, Yerevan, May 31, 2021.
Armenia - Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian delivers a farewell address to senior Foreign Ministry officials, Yerevan, May 31, 2021.

Adonts shed more light on the resignations in an open-ad article published by the Mediamax news agency on June 24 four days after snap parliamentary elections won by the ruling Civil Contract Party. In a thinly veiled attack on Pashinian, he said that Armenia’s and Nagorno-Karabakh’s security is being jeopardized by “emotional and primitive one-man governance.”

“Unfortunately, Armenia is becoming a tool for securing the interests of all parties except itself,” claimed Adonts.

On July 14, Pashinian named the secretary of the Security Council, Armen Grigorian, as first deputy foreign minister. Senior Civil Contract member described the move as a prelude to Grigorian’s appointment as foreign minister.

The ministerial position remained vacant, however, after President Armen Sarkissian reappointed Pashinian as prime minister on August 2 in line with the election results. Sarkissian appointed the 11 other ministers and two deputy prime ministers in the following days in separate decrees initiated by the premier.

Armenia - Acting Foreign Minister Armen Grigorian adddresses a UN forum from Yerevan, July 22, 2021.
Armenia - Acting Foreign Minister Armen Grigorian adddresses a UN forum from Yerevan, July 22, 2021.

Armenia’s constitution requires the prime minister to submit his ministerial choices to the president for approval within five days of his own appointment. As of Saturday, Sarkissian was not asked to appoint Grigorian as foreign minister.

The government has so far declined to give any reasons for the delay.

Ruben Rubinian, a deputy speaker of the new Armenian parliament and senior Civil Contract figure, said over the weekend that there are no “concrete reasons” for the delay and that the new foreign minister will be appointed “soon.”

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Rubinian dismissed media reports that Pashinian is having second thoughts about Grigorian’s appointment because it is opposed by Russia. “There are and there can be no differences [with Moscow,]” he said.

Grigorian, who is currently performing the ministerial duties, had for years worked for a Western-funded Armenian civic group and criticized Russia prior to joining Pashinian’s political team in 2018.

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