YEREVAN (Armenpress)-Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian answered reporters’ questions about the recent dismissal of Foreign Ministry employees during a press conference Monday where he explained that the dismissed diplomats and Foreign Service employees were in violation of the law on diplomatic service.
"Those holding positions in the diplomatic service do not have the right to take public political positions," he told reporters. "Their actions contradict the law of the Republic."
"Beyond the ambassadors who were relieved of their posts by the President, there were six others at the Ministry, who were relieved by me, today. For the same reason-the law precludes a diplomat’s engagement in political activity," Oskanian reiterated.
President Kocharian dismissed three ambassadors of their posts, while Oskanian dismissed another seven diplomats.
The ambassadors who were relieved of their duties had all joined a movement, whose leader repeatedly called for the violent overthrow of the government, Oskanian said. This movement labeled the Armenian state as a "Kleptocracy" and the President as its "Gang leader," Oskanian added.
"How do you imagine that these ambassadors, who represent this president and this state can continue to work, if they obviously agree with that label?" he asked reporters.
Oskanian also noted that some of the dismissed diplomats are deeply connected with the former administration. They are either friends, old colleagues, or related to present and former high-level officials from the old administration, he added.
"When President Kocharian came to office, he articulated a clear policy: we don’t touch our civil service employees. Ambassadors grow into their positions; they’re not born into them," Oskanian explained. "We invest in our them; so long as they have decided to serve the state, this is the normal state of affairs in normal countries. So, this action was an assault on tolerance."
"It pained me to sign those orders, and to hear the president’s orders being read on TV. I view this as a strike at our civil services, at something that we had succeeded in embedding in our ministry," Oskanian remarked. "Not only did they continue to work, but they had continued to rise in the ran’s, without experiencing any discrimination. It is exactly these people who should have been the last to resort to such a step. But unfortunately, they somehow succumbed," he added.
Oskanian reassured reporters that there would not be a witch hunt or purge within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"I’ve been asked whether there are other people in the same category," Oskanian told reporters. "I’m not even going to try to find out. Our principles will not change. There won’t be a witch-hunt. Those who have not made public announcemen’s will continue to work."