YEREVAN — The Armenian government on Thursday formally decided 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 Kocharyan 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 Kocharyan’s successor, Serzh Sarkisyan, 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 in 2020. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signaled his approval of the idea in February 2021 but did not rush to put it into practice.

The ministry revived the idea this summer before drafting a package of amendments to more than three dozen laws. The government endorsed the proposed amendments and decided to send them to the Armenian parliament for approval on Thursday.

“The interior ministry will comprise three major services: the police, the rescue service and the migration and citizenship service,” acting Justice Minister Grigor Minasyan said during a weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Pashinian.

The rescue service is currently part of the existing Ministry of Emergencies. In Minasyan’s words, the ministry will be abolished as a result of the forthcoming structural change.

PM Pashinyan said that the creation of the interior ministry is primarily aimed at “increasing the effectiveness of the work of the police.” He did say who will likely run it.

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