Departures of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the midst of a border crisis
Several senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia (MoFA) have announced their resignation amid the ongoing crisis along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In a farewell meeting with Foreign Ministry staff on May 31, former Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan affirmed that he resigned in order to “ensure that there is never any suspicion that this ministry could take measures or accept certain ideas, initiatives, which go against our national and state interests”.
Ayvazyan announced his resignation following an emergency Security Council meeting on May 27. During the meeting, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan detailed his proposal to deploy international observers from Russia or other OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. , following the return of Armenian and Azerbaijani troops to their positions on May 11. Border control posts would then be adjusted under international auspices.
The meeting was triggered by the capture of six Armenian soldiers by Azerbaijani forces who entered Gegharkunik province. On May 12, hundreds of Azerbaijani soldiers invaded the provinces of Syunik and Gegharkunik, and despite ongoing negotiations, around 500-600 Azerbaijani soldiers remained in the border regions of Armenia. The Azerbaijani government claims that its army did not encroach on sovereign Armenian territory, but rather took up new posts within its borders.
On May 31, Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Anna Naghdalyan and Deputy Foreign Minister Gagik Ghalachyan also announced their resignations. Naghdalian Noted that she will continue her work in the diplomatic service.
Ayvazyan did not say whether he had resigned in reaction to Pashinyan’s de-escalation and border demarcation plan. Prime Minister Mane Gevorgyan’s press secretary asked him to clarify its meaning in a message to the press. “Although we thank Mr. Ayvazyan for his work, we believe that our national and state interests demand that Mr. Ayvazyan publicly explain who was going to take certain actions, when, where and how, or take decisions that contradict the national and state interests of our country, “she Told journalists.
Tensions between the prime minister’s office and the foreign ministry had previously become public when the latter said he had no prior knowledge of a labor agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia that had been disclosed on May 19. The document called for the creation of a joint commission to delimit and demarcate the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Rumors circulated that the agreement also involved the concession of Armenian territory. Pashinian insisted that the MoFA had access to the document.
Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan also asked Ayvazyan to clarify the details of the reasoning behind his resignation. He denied the existence of a secret agreement with Azerbaijan contrary to national interests, declaring that all discussions on the resolution of the border crisis have been made “as much as possible public”.
Grigoryan further informed reporters that the The task force chaired by the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan with the aim of unblocking all regional economic and transport links has suspended its operations in response to the border crisis. The group was envisioned by a joint declaration on January 11, which aimed to fully implement the November 9 trilateral ceasefire agreement by re-establishing Soviet-era transport routes connecting Azerbaijan to the Republic Autonomous from Nakhichevan and Armenia to Iran and Russia.
Contacts between the members of the working group have been interrupted for the moment. Grigoryen Told journalists that he “does not think that constructive work is possible on this platform” given the instability along the border.
The European Union welcomed Pashinyan’s proposal for an international observation mission along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, offering to provide expertise and assistance on border demarcation and demarcation. The EU also reiterated his call on Azerbaijan to release all prisoners of war without delay in a statement by Foreign Affairs spokesman Peter Stano.
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs also issued a statement in response to Pashinyan’s speech calling for the release of all prisoners of war on a full basis. The co-chairs welcomed the immediate relocation of troops and offered to help facilitate negotiations to delimit and demarcate the border peacefully. They did not, however, comment on Pashinyan’s proposal to deploy international observers by the OSCE Minsk Group.
French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his support for the demarcation and delimitation of the border through negotiations during Pashinyan’s visit to Paris this week. “Azerbaijani troops must leave the sovereign territory of Armenia,” he said. mentionned after a welcome ceremony at the Elysee Palace. “I call on the parties to return to the positions they occupied on May 11.”
While France and the United States have made known their requests to relocate Azerbaijani forces to their May 11 positions, Russia has not formally called for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani soldiers from Armenian territory. Following a meeting between Armenian and Russian Defense Ministers Vagharshak Harutyunyan and Sergey Shoigu on May 28, Armenia’s Defense Ministry ad that the parties had “reached agreement on necessary measures “to resolve the border crisis, without sharing further details.
The Armenian Defense Ministry further denied accusations that 40 Armenian soldiers crossed the Azerbaijani border on June 1. condemn disinformation propagated by Azerbaijani military-political leaders in order to “counteract provocations by the Azerbaijani armed forces to invade the territory of the Republic of Armenia on May 12 and 13. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry had previously accused the Armenian army of having opened fire on various positions along the international border and towards Shushi, which the command of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Artsakh quickly refuted.
Meanwhile, Armenian officials were forced to apologize after photos were released online showing the remains of fallen soldiers from the Artsakh war of 2020 randomly stacked in body bags in a dirty room and not refrigerated. The remains belong to soldiers who have been identified but have not yet been recovered by family members at the morgue at the Abovyan branch of the forensic center on the outskirts of Yerevan.
“I would like to apologize to all relatives for the poor maintenance of the bodies and remains,” said Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan. wrote. “It was my omission that after a few moves, I did not personally visit again to ensure the details of the maintenance of the remains.”
The head of a state forensic center overseeing Armenian morgues, Mher Bisharian, told RFE / RL that the remains of the soldiers were taken to the Abovyan facility and temporarily stored in his basement afterwards. that a refrigerated morgue truck where they had been previously stored broke down. . They were transported to a refrigerated facility in Martuni.
The health ministry has denied media reports that it is hiding corpses in order to cover up the real number of war casualties.
The photos were shared on May 31 by Mikayel Minasyan, son-in-law of former President Serge Sargsyan and former Ambassador to Vatican City. “After seeing this scene, who would want to sacrifice their life for the homeland? ” he wrote.
The prime minister’s office has launched an investigation to determine “whether the problem was caused by the reckless actions of the responsible official,” Gevorgyan. Told journalists.
The search and identification of military victims of the war continues. The Health Ministry reports that it has been unable to obtain DNA samples from the remains of 50 people. He has led DNA tests on 150 other corpses, but their DNA samples do not match any of the relatives in their database. While officials report that around 4,000 Armenian soldiers died during the war, this number is not verifiable as long as search operations continue and an unknown number of POWs remain in Azerbaijani captivity.