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Armenia-Georgia: Ambassador’s delayed appointment

Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Serzh Sargsyan. Photo: yerkir.am

Appointment of the new Armenian ambassador to Georgia is being delayed. In May, Armenian mass media reported that Yuri Vardanyan would be replaced by Sergey Minasyan.

Minasyan is a political analyst and is Deputy Director of the Caucasus Institute Center in Yerevan. The new ambassador was to be appointed in June. According to Zhamanak newspaper, the Georgian authorities are reluctant to see Minasyan as Armenia’s Ambassador to Georgia.

During his last visit to Tbilisi, Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia Ara Babloyan mentioned that problem but, according to an anonymous source, Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze was silent. Zhamanak assumes that this must have been a signal that Armenia should nominate another candidate.

Minasyan has refused to comment on this situation. Armenia’s foreign ministry says that the appointment of ambassadors is regulated by the constitution and laws. “The rest is just rumors,” the ministry’s Spokesman Tigran Balayan said, when asked if Georgia actually was reluctant to see Minasyan as ambassador.

Born in Javakhq (an Armenian-populated region of Georgia), Minasyan is an expert in Armenian-Georgian relations. So, his appointment seems to be logical. On the other hand, Minasyan’s Javakheti roots may be one of the key reasons why Georgia is resistant.

For Armenia, who has been blockaded by Azerbaijan and Turkey for many years already, Georgia is vital. Almost 75% of all cargoes from and to Armenia go via that country.

Despite assurances of centuries-old friendship and brotherhood and statements that there are no unsolvable problems between Armenia and Georgia, there are lots of pitfalls here.

The major tasks are to preserve the cultural-historical heritage, to ensure the constitutional rights of the Javakheti Armenians and to give back “disputable” churches to the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Also a big problem is the need to provide Georgian Armenians with high quality Armenian education. Each year, Armenia sends hundreds of Armenian textbooks to Georgia – something the Georgian authorities do not welcome. And one more problem is that there are lots of Armenians who have lost their Georgian citizenship: poverty has forced them to renounce it and to obtain Armenian passport so as to be able to see jobs in Russia.

Among indirect problems is the colossal influence of Turkey and Azerbaijan in Georgia. Their economic expansion is marring Armenian-Georgian relations. The Georgian authorities keep holding summit meetings with their Azerbaijani and Turkish counterparts. During some of the meetings, they adopt pro-Azerbaijani statements on Nagorno-Karabakh, which cannot be worry the Armenian side.

Under such circumstances, the Armenian diplomats need to be very professional and undertaking, which, unfortunately, is not the case with the current Armenian ambassador to Georgia. In 2012, legendary weightlifter Yuri Vardanyan was appointed as Sports and Youth Minister of Armenia. In 2014, he was sent to Tbilisi as Ambassador. That appointment was a shock for many in Armenia.

It is hard to say if Minasyan will be able to give a new impulse to Armenian-Georgian relations or not. But the delay in his appointment proves that many in Georgia and Armenia would not like to see him appointed. As far as EADaily knows, Vardanyan is putting lots of obstacles in Minasyan’s way as he does not want to quit his job.

The other candidate is former Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, Republican MP Hermine Naghdalyan. Some sources say that she has business interests in Georgia.

It is not clear how long this red tape will last but this delay may become an acid test for Armenian-Georgian relations and the Armenian authorities, where narrow group interests often prevail over political expediency.

EADaily’s Analytical Bureau

Permalink: eadaily.com/en/news/2017/09/29/armenia-georgia-ambassadors-delayed-appointment
Published on September 29th, 2017 01:26 PM
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