Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan at the Baikar [photo: Aram Arkun]

Government May Close Diaspora Ministry

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The government is considering closing Armenia’s Diaspora Ministry or downgrading its status, Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan said on Friday, November 23.

The ministry was set up in 2008 by then President Serzh Sargsyan. It is tasked with maintaining and strengthening the country’s cultural, educational and other ties with the worldwide Armenian Diaspora.

Hayrapetyan said the future of his ministry is now under review in line with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s plans to downsize the entire government.

“We are continuing to discuss [its future] right now,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “There are two options: the closure of the ministry or its reinforcement. I personally have proposed the latter option: an agency with greater functions and levers.”

The 28-year-old minister admitted that the ministry employing about 90 people has until now played a largely “symbolic” role. The government must set much more “ambitious” objectives for it, he said without elaborating.

In Hayrapetyan’s words, if the government does not accept his ideas it will likely decide to incorporate the Diaspora Ministry into another ministry or downsize it and lower its status.

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Hayrapetyan is the youngest member of Pashinyan’s cabinet formed after the latter swept to power in May in a wave of mass protests. He is running as a candidate of the premier’s My Step alliance in parliamentary elections scheduled for December 9.

Also Friday, Hayrapetyan revealed that more than 450 families have repatriated to Armenia in the seven months from May.

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