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Armenian Official Comments On ‘Russian Objections’ To His Ministerial Job


Armenia - Acting Foreign Minister Armen Grigorian speaks at a news conference in Yerevan, August 16, 2021.

A senior official in Yerevan has implicitly denied reports that Russia blocked his widely anticipated appointment as Armenia’s new foreign minister.

Armen Grigorian was the secretary of the Armenian government’s Security Council before being named first deputy foreign minister on July 14 in what some political allies of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian described as a prelude to his appointment as the country’s new top diplomat.

The key ministerial post remained vacant, however, even after Pashinian handpicked in early August the 13 other members of his new cabinet formed as a result of the June 20 parliamentary elections.

Media reports claimed that the prime minister is having second thoughts about appointing Grigorian as foreign minister because of Russian objections. Grigorian, 37, worked for or cooperated otherwise with Western-funded civic groups and criticized Russia up until the 2018 “velvet revolution” that brought Pashinian to power.

Pashinian gave the job to another ally, former parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, and sent Grigorian back to the Security Council on August 18.

In a weekend interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Grigorian insisted that Pashinian still had no “final decision” on whom to name foreign minister when he began effectively running the Armenian Foreign Ministry in July.

Asked whether Russia indeed thwarted his ministerial appointment, Grigorian said: “I have worked with Moscow very productively for the last three years.”

He specifically claimed to have enjoyed a good rapport with Nikolay Patrushev, the influential secretary of Russia’s Secretary Council.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov congratulated Mirzoyan, his new Armenian counterpart, on August 20. The two men are scheduled to meet in Moscow on Tuesday.

Armenia’s previous foreign minister, Ara Ayvazian, stepped down on May 27 amid 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 on 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.

Adonts launched a thinly veiled attack on Pashinian in an open-ad article published by the Mediamax news agency on June 24 He said that Armenia’s and Nagorno-Karabakh’s security is being jeopardized by “emotional and primitive one-man governance.”

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