Armenian Foreign Minister Steps Down Amid Tensions With Azerbaijan Over Border Issues

Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian stepped down on May 27 after only six months in office amid growing border tensions with neighboring Azerbaijan.

Ayvazian gave no reasons for his resignation, which was confirmed by Anna Naghdalian, spokeswoman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry. Naghdalian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the ministry would not comment on the move for now.

Ayvazian appeared to have tendered his resignation immediately after taking part in an emergency meeting of Armenia’s Security Council, which discussed mounting tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Speaking at the meeting, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian called for the deployment of international observers along contested portions of the frontier where Armenian and Azerbaijani troops have been facing off for the last two weeks. It was not immediately clear if Ayvazian agreed with Pashinian’s proposal.

The Yerevan newspaper Hraparak reported on May 21 that Ayvazian disagreed with Pashinian over a draft trilateral agreement with Azerbaijan and Russia to set up a joint committee to demarcate the border between the two South Caucasus neighbors.

Pashinian appointed Ayvazian as foreign minister on November 18 as part of a cabinet reshuffle that followed Armenia’s defeat in a war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The 52-year-old career diplomat had previously worked as Armenian ambassador to Mexico and various European countries.

His resignation came after Azerbaijani forces captured six Armenian servicemen amid the border tensions.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said the Armenian soldiers were seized in Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar district early on May 27 as they tried to cross the border to place mines on supply routes leading to Azerbaijani Army positions.

Pashinian told a cabinet meeting that the six “abducted” servicemen were planting mines to strengthen the border on Armenian territory and installing warning signs. He rejected Azerbaijan’s claim that the actions by Armenian troops were a provocation.