The government installed yesterday includes Vardan Oskanian, 43, a seasoned opponent of “unilateral concessions” on Karabakh, as foreign minister. Oskanian relinquished his U.S. citizenship on the eve of this appointment. Born in Syria, and a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Oskanian joined Armenia’s Foreign Ministry in 1992, became deputy minister in 1994 and first deputy in 1997. His main responsibility concerned the negotiations on the Karabakh conflict. In that capacity, Oskanian disagreed with the concessions proposed by President Levon Ter-Petrosian during the last months of his presidency, concessions that led to Ter-Petrosian’s downfall in February of this year. In that crisis, Oskanian sided with the uniformed ministers Vazgen and Serge Sarkisian and with then Prime Minister Robert Kocharian in opposing what they viewed as unilateral concessions. Foreign Minister Alexander Arzumanian, who hesitated in that crisis, was criticized by Kocharian yesterday when the new president installed Oskanian as foreign minister.
Kocharian also announced a decision to create within the Foreign Ministry a “powerful Department” for Diaspora Affairs under a deputy foreign minister. The decision fits in with Kocharian’s stated intention to involve the diaspora more closely in Armenia’s affairs and to institute dual citizenship. Last month, Kocharian appointed Armenian-American Raffi Hovanissian as head of the Armenian government’s Information Department. (Noyan-Tapan, April 20)
TAJIK OPPOSITION BROADENS POLITICAL SCOPE.