YEREVAN — The Armenian government indicated on Tuesday that it is pressing ahead with its plans to set up a ministry of interior as part of a major structural reform of the national police and two other agencies.

Armenia had an interior ministry until former President Robert Kocharian abolished it and turned the police into a separate structure subordinate to him two decades ago. The police have reported to the prime minister since Kocharian’s successor, Serzh Sarkisian, completed the country’s transition to a parliamentary system of government in 2018.

The Armenian Ministry of Justice recommended the re-establishment of the interior ministry headed by a full-fledged cabinet member in a three-year strategy of police reforms proposed to the government two years ago. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signaled his approval of the idea in February 2021.

The ministry revived the idea recently, prompting a parliamentary hearing on a corresponding bill drafted by it. Justice Minister Karen Andreasyan said the bill will likely be sent to the National Assembly for debate in September.

“We will merge three major services — the Police, the Rescue Service and Migration Service — under the umbrella of the new Ministry of Internal Affairs,” one of Andreasian’s deputies, Arpine Sargsyan, told the hearing organized by the parliament committee on defense and security.

The committee chairman, Andranik Kocharyan, backed the proposed merger, saying that it would increase “democratic oversight” of the Armenian police.

“By restoring the Interior Ministry we will solve several critical problems: specific functions of the Interior Ministry will be established and a new system of training of police officers will be installed,” he said.

As part of a major structural reform of the national police service Patrol Police, a new police unit tasked with road policing, crowd control and street patrol, was established last year.

These and other changes, according to Kocharyan, will increase the attractiveness of service in the system and improve the manageability of the country’s internal security.

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