YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian appointed on Tuesday Armenia’s new ministers of education, labor and agriculture in place of three members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation who resigned following the party’s withdrawal from the ruling coalition.
The ARF announced the exit late last month, citing “insurmountable disagreements” with Sarkisian over his conciliatory policy toward Turkey. All senior government officials affiliated with it tendered their resignations as a result.
The ARF has said that Sarkisian is jeopardizing Armenia’s national security with his diplomatic overtures to Turkey, which is exploiting the negotiations process to become an actor in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks and to deter the United States from officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
The new ministers represent the three other parties remaining in Armenia’s coalition government. The most famous of them, Armen Ashotian, is a senior member of Sarkisian’s Republican Party who has until now headed the Armenian parliament’s committee on education, culture and youth affairs. Ashotian, 33, will now serve as minister of science and education.
The vacant post of minister of labor and social affairs was given to the Republican Party’s largest coalition partner, the Prosperous Armenia Party. Its new holder, Gevorg Petrosian, was a senior official at the parliament’s Audit Chamber before the appointment. Petrosian, 36, joined Prosperous Armenia in 2006.
The newly appointed agriculture minister, Gerasim Alaverdian, also worked at the Audit Chamber until now. Alaverdian, 44, is a member of the Orinats Yerkir Party, the third coalition partner.
Sarkisian and his allies have yet to fill other vacancies left by the ARF. Those include about a dozen posts of deputy minister. They are expected to be distributed among the Republicans, Prosperous Armenia, and Country of Law.
“We will discuss the issue other vacant posts in a few days’ time,” Galust Sahakian, a Republican deputy chairman, told RFE/RL.