YEREVAN — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he has decided to sack Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakaniyan as the Armenian parliament discussed on Monday his administration’s handling of the war with Azerbaijan.
Pashinyan gave no clear reason for the move as he spoke at an emergency session of the National Assembly boycotted by opposition lawmakers. He did not say who will replace Mnatsakanyan.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalyan, indicated shortly afterwards that Mnatsakanyan himself has decided to step down. She posted on her Facebook page a copy of a letter of resignation signed by Mnatsakanyan.
Earlier in the afternoon, Naghdalyan publicly contradicted Pashinyan’s comments on Shushi, Karabakh’s second largest city captured by Azerbaijani forces during the war stopped by a Russian-mediated ceasefire on November 10.
Speaking at a news conference in the morning, the prime minister claimed that peace proposals made by U.S., Russian and French mediators in recent years called for the restoration of Azerbaijani control over Shushi.
“The issue of giving up [Karabakh Armenian control of] Shushi was not raised during any stage of the peace process,” Naghdalyan wrote on Facebook.
Mnatsakanyan himself did not immediately comment on his unexpected exit. He spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by phone as recently as on Sunday. They discussed the implementation of the ceasefire agreement.
Mnatsakanyan, 54, is a career diplomat whom Pashinyan appointed as foreign minister after coming to power in the “Velvet Revolution” of April-May 2018. He is the first member of the Armenian government to lose his post after the six-week war.