On Thursday (19 August), Ararat Mirzoyan was appointed as the new foreign minister of Armenia by a presidential decree on the recommendation of the prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan.
Though he has no previous diplomatic experience, Mirzoyan enjoys close ties with Pashinyan, having helped to establish the Civil Contract party. He served as speaker of the parliament until the snap elections in June. He has also previously held positions as first deputy prime minister and opposition member of parliament.
Mirzoyan was attacked by angry protesters last November on the night Nikol Pashinyan announced a ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan to end the 44-day war. He was badly beaten and required hospitalisation and surgery.
Armenia has been without a foreign minister since May, when Ara Ayvazian and all of his deputies resigned over alleged policy disagreements with Pashinyan. Whilst the prime minister and most ministers continued to serve in an acting capacity, the foreign ministry appeared to be leaderless over the following months. The position was then temporarily filled by Armen Grigoryan in July, who has now been reappointed to secretary of the Security Council, a position which he held before becoming acting foreign minister. Pashinyan will hope that this latest appointment will bring stability to a ministry which has been in turmoil for the past year, and which faces a busy agenda ahead.
It is not yet clear how well received Mirzoyan will be by the cadres of the Armenian foreign ministry, who had preferred to have a ministry insider appointed as minister. Mirzoyan will shortly appoint a number of deputies and it is expected that the team will balance between experienced diplomats and government loyalists. Mirzoyan faces a busy agenda ahead, including consolidating relations with Russia, developing relations with the EU and the US as a second pillar of Armenian diplomacy, managing relations with the neighbours such as Iran and Georgia, and last but not least, returning to some form of dialogue with Azerbaijan and Turkey.