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Exodus from Armenian Foreign Ministry follows border tensions

1 June 2021
Deputy Foreign Minister Gagik Ghalachyan (left), Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian (centre), and Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan (right) all resigned in late May. Official photos.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian has resigned along with a deputy minister and the ministry’s chief spokesperson.

Ayzavian announced his resignation on 27 May after an emergency meeting of the Security Council. He was followed on 31 May by Deputy Foreign Minister Gagik Ghalachyan and ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan. 

The resignations came amidst internal and external crises in Armenia triggered by the country’s defeat in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war and ongoing border disputes with Azerbaijan.

During 27 May’s meeting, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan proposed de-escalating the situation on the Azerbaijani border and starting a demarcation process under international observation. 

Pashinyan offered that both countries withdraw troops from border areas with international observers deployed from Russia or another of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, the US or France. 

The offer was welcomed by several Western countries, the EU, and OSCE, but was met with disapproval among many in Armenia. It came two weeks after Armenia accused Azerbaijan of making an incursion into Armenia’s territory. Since then, several such incidents have been reported with an Armenian soldier having been killed and six taken captive by Azerbaijan.  

Ayvazian broke his silence on 31 May during a farewell meeting with the ministry’s staff. He said that he had resigned to ‘ensure there is never any question that our ministry can take steps or agree to any ideas or initiatives that go against our statehood, our national and state interests’.

‘I am sure that there will be principled diplomats who will become an example for our society’, Ayvazian said. 

Pashinyan’s spokesperson, Mane Gevorgyan, quickly urged the outgoing minister to publicly clarify ‘who exactly, when, where and how’ was going to take steps or make a decision counter to Armenia’s interests.

Tensions between the PM and his foreign minister previously became public earlier in May regarding a draft agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan that Pashinyan claimed he was ready to sign. 

The Foreign Ministry responded that it was not aware of the agreement, which would set up a demarcation commission with Azerbaijan with Russian coordination. 

Pashinyan denied that there was any ‘Anti-Armenian’ document on the table, and criticised the ministry for claiming not to have been informed about the document.

[Read more: Proposed agreement on Armenia-Azerbaijan borders sparks protest in Armenia]

Both Ayvazian and deputy minister Ghalachyan were appointed after the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war. 

Ayvazyan’s predecessor, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, resigned over ‘disagreements with the Prime Minister’ in November after the country signed a Russian-brokered deal to end the war.

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