According to Harutiunian’s press service, only ministers of defense and internal affairs were not dismissed. Under the presidential decrees, four of the dismissed ministers, including Foreign Minister David Babayan, will continue to act as ministers, while the others will be temporarily replaced by their first deputies.
It was also reported today that Harutiunian turned to the speaker of the local parliament on November 22 to recall draft amendments to the region’s constitution.
A statement issued by the Karabakh leader’s press service said that “the decision was based on various political objective and subjective assessments voiced during the implementation of the initiative to amend the constitution as well as on a negative public reaction to the draft amendments, which could become another cause of internal rifts and tensions.”
It said that Harutiunian will initiate “additional political consultations on the further course of the constitutional reform.”
The latest changes in the de facto administration in Nagorno-Karabakh come less than three weeks after Ruben Vardanyan, a Russian-Armenian businessman, was appointed the region’s state minister, an equivalent of prime minister in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Vardanyan, whose assets were estimated by Forbes last year at $1 billion, publicly renounced his Russian citizenship weeks before his appointment to a high position in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Yerevan-born businessman, who made his fortune as an investment banker in Russia, vowed efforts to turn Nagorno-Karabakh into an “entity” through major reforms to increase security, economic and social prosperity in the region where about 120,000 people live as he assumed office on November 4.
Azerbaijan does not recognize the de facto ethnic Armenian government in Nagorno-Karabakh viewing it as a separatist regime. It considers the mostly Armenian-populated territory of the former autonomous oblast inside Soviet Azerbaijan as an area under “temporary control” of Russian peacekeepers who were deployed in the region after a 2020 war in which Azerbaijan regained control of all seven districts around Nagorno-Karabakh as well as two districts in the region proper.
Under the terms of the Moscow-brokered 2020 ceasefire that was signed by Yerevan and Baku the Russian peacekeepers were deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh for a five-year period and their mission will be automatically extended for another five-year period unless either of the parties demands its end giving a six-month notice.
Implying this possible deadline in May 2025 when Azerbaijan may demand an end to the Russian peacekeepers’ mission, Vardanyan said on November 4 that “we have no more than 900 days that we must use effectively to make changes in order to address security and development issues.”
Earlier this month Vardanyan also indicated his readiness to become a person negotiating with authorities in Baku on behalf of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev publicly refused to engage in dialogue with Vardanyan, whom he described as a person “sent from Moscow”, but said that Baku was ready to talk to ethnic Armenians living in the Karabakh region whom it considers to be citizens of Azerbaijan.