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 Bekzadian (1920-1921), Askanaz Mravian (1921-1922, concurrently with the position of Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Armenian SSR), Sahak Karapetian (1944-1946, concurrently with the position of Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR), Gevorg (Kimik) Hovhannisian (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 Kochinian (1954-1958, concurrently with the position of Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR), Balabek Martirosian (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 Udumian (1972-1975), John Kirakossian (1975-1985), Anatoly Mkrtichian (1986-1991).
With the proclamation of independence of Armenia (1991), activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic radically changed, taking into account the new status of the Republic of Armenia in international relations, the structure of Ministry and the quantity of staff were brought in line with the requirements of the foreign policy of an independent state.
Armenia established diplomatic relations with 156 countries (as of August 1, 2010). Armenia became a member of the United Nations (UN, 1992), member of a number of other international organizations (OSCE, CIS, CSTO, Council of Europe, BSEC), has opened embassies and consulates in many countries, permanent missions have been established in number of international organizations (as of August 1, 2010, there are 30 embassies of RA, 5 consulates-general, 4 consulates and consular agencies of RA, 10 Permanent Missions of RA in international organizations).
Laws of the Republic of Armenia “On Diplomatic Ranks” (5.5.1992), “On Diplomatic Service” (24.10.2001, with further amendments), “On Consular Service” (29.5.1996), a number of legal acts regulating the system of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including - presidential decrees, were adopted. A special body was created inside MFA to coordinate cooperation with the Armenian Diaspora at the state level - Executive Secretariat for Relations with Diaspora (2002-2008), the State Committee for Relations with Diaspora (June-October, 2008), on the basis of which Ministry of Diaspora was established in October, 2008.
The first assignment of the highest diplomatic ranks of the Republic of Armenia was held by the Presidential decree on 25.7.1992.
Since 1996, MFA of Armenia is located on Republic Square, Government House #2, which was built in 1955 according to the project by architect Samvel Safarian. In 1991-1996 Ministry of Foreign Affairs was located in a building, where nowadays the Constitutional Court of Armenia is located.
According to the Charter, approved by the Government of RA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia is a republican body of executive authority, which elaborates and implements the foreign affairs policy of the Republic of Armenia Government and organizes and manages the diplomatic services within the scope of the authority vested in it.
According to the decrees of the President of the Republic of Armenia of March 31, 2000 “On the coordination of activities of executive power of the Republic of Armenia in the conduction of a common foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia” and the order of April 22, 2000 “On establishing the order of the implementation of international activities and international relations by the bodies of the executive power of RA” MFA of Armenia has a coordinating role in foreign policy area.
Proceeding from the requirements of independent statehood, the State Protocol of Armenia was established: first as a department of the MFA in 1991, then in 1998 becoming the RA State Protocol Service within the MFA, which later on, in 2002 was proceeded by the MFA “State Protocol Service” Agency, with the status of a separated subdivision of the Ministry. In the making of State Protocol great significance is given to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Armenia of March 16, 2002, which approved the “Basic Principles of the State Protocol of the Republic of Armenia”.
Since 1999, annual conferences of the ambassadors of Armenia abroad are being held. Several regional meetings of the ambassadors of Armenia were held.
Since 2010, the Diplomatic school operates at MFA of the Republic of Armenia.
Foreign Ministry of RA has its awards: in 2002 the Commemorative Medal of the Ministry was instituted, in 2009 – the Medal “80 years of John Kirakossian”.
The position of the Minister of Foreign affairs 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 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia is Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.