Historical Review of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
In 1918, in parallel with the restoration of the statehood, Armenia gained international recognition and established diplomatic ties. Armenia established diplomatic relations with Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran and other countries. Plenipotentiary representatives (consuls) were appointed to the USA, Bulgaria, Finland, Switzerland, Japan and other countries, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran opened diplomatic representations in Yerevan.
Foreign ministers of the First Republic of Armenia were Alexander Khatisian (1918, 1919-1920) Hovhannes Kajaznuni (in 1918, concurrently with the position of acting prime minister), Sirekan Tigranian (1918-1919), Hamo Ohanjanian (1920, concurrently with the position of acting prime minister), Simon Vratsian (1920, concurrently with the post of prime minister).
After the establishment of Soviet rule in December, 1920, the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic was founded, plenipotentiary representations were opened in the Soviet Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Iran, Kars.
After the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (TSFSR) was founded in July, 1922 the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs (PCFA) of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (Armenian SSR) was eliminated, taking into consideration the fact that the general management of TSFSR member states’ foreign policy was carried out by the TSFSR Council.
In 1922, after the formation of the USSR, the PCFA became union People’s Commissariat as the Soviet Union conducted a common foreign policy and, therefore, union republics delegated the function of conducting the foreign policy to the USSR.
At the last stage of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet leadership decided to expand the foreign policy functions of the Union’s republics, in particular, it was supposed to provide republics with the right to establish diplomatic and consular relations with foreign countries and even to seek their membership in the UN. To prepare the necessary personnel the Faculty of International Relations was established at the Yerevan State University (functioned from 1945 to 1952).
According to the law, apodted by the Supreme Council of the USSR in 1944, the USSR PCFA turned from total union into union-republic model, which meant the restoration of the People’s Commissariats of Foreign Affairs (from 1946 – Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in the governments of the Union’s republics.
In the postwar years Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Armenian SSR operated under the guidance of the Government of the Armenian SSR and the Soviet MFA. The structure of the Ministry included the political department, the consular department, department of information. Ministry was responsible for providing the Central Committee of Communist Party of Armenia and the Government of Armenian SSR with the information about the Republic and international situation, consular support of trade and economic, scientific, cultural and other relations of the Republic with foreign states, citizenship issues, passports, visas, legalization of documents, correspondence with the “Inyurkollegiya” (Foreign Legal Collegium) on issues of civil heritage and other property matters, correspondence of the governing bodies of the Armenian SSR with Soviet Union’s foreign missions.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Armenian SSR was a part of the Soviet diplomatic service, diplomatic staff of the Ministry received diplomatic ranks, from time to time was posted to the Soviet Union’s foreign missions. Other representatives of the Armenian SSR, also worked in the diplomatic service, many Armenians, some of whom held senior positions in the system of the Soviet MFA, became Soviet Ambassadors.
In 1975-1985 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Armenian SSR did a great and productive work on collecting information on developments in the Diaspora, on the Armenian issue and in the direction of preparing the decisions of republic's leadership and development the Political Armenology.
The small staff of MFA of the Armenian SSR underwent the test of the devastating earthquake of 1988, when it was necessary to deal with the issues of organizing huge humanitarian aid arriving from abroad, as well as with issues of political, diplomatic and consular support.
With the beginning of the Karabakh movement in 1988, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Armenian SSR was transferring international reactions to the events in Armenia, NK and the USSR to the leadership of the republic.
In the Soviet Union during the “perestroika” years, especially after the earthquake in 1988, the leadership of the Armenian SSR several times (but unsuccessfully) asked Moscow for greater involvement of representatives of the republic in the Soviet Union’s foreign missions, especially in countries with large Armenian communities. Only in 1960-82 diplomats, recommended by the Armenian SSR, worked at the Soviet Embassy in France.
The post of the People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the Armenian SSR was held by Alexander Bekzadyan (1920-1921), Askanaz Mravyan (1921-1922, concurrently with the position of Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Armenian SSR), Sahak Karapetyan (1944-1946, concurrently with the position of Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR), Gevorg (Kimik) Hovhannisyan (1947-1954, concurrently from 1947 – Chairman of the Armenian Company for Cultural Affairs with the Foreign Countries, and from 1948 – Head of Governmental Agency for Arts of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR), Anton Kochinyan (1954-1958, concurrently with the position of Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR), Balabek Martirosyan (1958-1972, concurrently with the position of Chairman of the State Committee of Higher and Secondary Special Education of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR in 1959-1961), Kamo Udumyan (1972-1975), John Kirakossian (1975-1985), Anatoly Mkrtchyan (1986-1991).
With the declaration of independence of Armenia (1991), the activity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic has radically changed. Taking into account the new status of the Republic of Armenia in international relations, the structure of the Ministry and the number of personnel were brought in line with the requirements of the foreign policy of an independent state.
Laws of the Republic of Armenia “On Diplomatic Ranks” (5.5.1992, lost force on 24.10.2001), “On Diplomatic Service” (24.10.2001, with further amendments), “On Consular Service” (29.5.1996), a number of legislative acts regulating the system of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first assignment of the highest diplomatic ranks of the Republic of Armenia was held by the Presidential decree on 25.7.1992.
Since the beginning of 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the RA has been located in the Governmental Complex at 3 Vazgen Sargsyan Str., designed by architect Narek Sargsyan. From 1996 to 2016, the MFA of Armenia was located on the Republic Square, Government House #2, built in 1955, according to the project of the architect Samvel Safarian. And in 1991-1996 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was accommodated in other building: currently the building of the Constitutional Court of Armenia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia elaborates and implements the Government's policy in the spheres entrusted to it by the law “On the Structure and Activities of the Government”, as well as it organizes and leads the diplomatic service within its competence. The governance of the Ministry is being exercised by the Prime Minister and the Minister.
Since 1999, the Conferences of MFA apparatus and heads of diplomatic service abroad are being held annually. Several times regional meetings of the Ambassadors of the Republic of Armenia has been held as well.
The diplomatic school of Armenia has been operating since 1999.
The Foreign Ministry of RA has its Ministerial awards: the Commemorative Medal of the Ministry was instituted, in 2009 – the Medal “80 years of John Kirakossian”.
Armenia joined the United Nations Organization (1992) and a number of other international organizations (OSCE, CIS, CSTO, Council of Europe, BSEC). As of December 2019 Armenia established diplomatic relations with 178 countries.
The Republic of Armenia has opened embassies and consulates in a number of countries, permanent missions have been established in many international organizations. There are more than 42 resident Ambassadors of the Republic of Armenia abroad, who are concurrently accredited in a total number of 74 countries. Permanent representatives of the Republic of Armenia have been appointed in 11 international organizations. The Republic of Armenia has 10 consulates general, one consular post and 40 honorary consulates.
The position of the Minister of Foreign affairs of the Republic of Armenia was held by Ashot Yeghiazaryan (Acting Minister - 1990-1991), Raffi Hovhannisian (1991-1992), Arman Kirakossian (Acting Minister - 1992-1993), Vahan Papazian (1993-1996), Alexander Arzoumanian (1996-1998), Vartan Oskanian (1998-2008), Edward Nalbandian (2008-2018).
Since May 2018, the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia is held by Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.