By Ani Mejlumyan
STEPANAKERT (eurasia.net) — Following the defeat to Azerbaijan, the government in Nagorno Karabakh has reshuffled many of its top officials and is preparing for new elections.
On December 1, the head of the self-proclaimed republic, Arayik Harutyunyan, said that it would start forming a “government of national accord” to manage the territory “in this period which is so difficult for our motherland.” Since then, several new cabinet officials including a new national security adviser and foreign minister have been named, representing a wide swath of the territory’s political spectrum.
“Overall, we can say that the appointments of the new government are completed,” the spokesman for president Arayik Harutyunyan, Vahram Poghosyan, told RFE/RL on January 5. “We have to get on with work in order to try to get the life back to normal in [Karabakh] as soon as possible.”
The most consequential appointment has been that of Vitaliy Balasanyan as national security adviser. Balasanyan is a veteran of the first war with Azerbaijan, in the 1990s, and is a close ally of former Armenian presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan. He was national security adviser from 2016-2019 and ran unsuccessfully for president in elections last year while also helping lead a campaign to free Kocharyan, the archenemy of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who was in jail in Armenia for charges related to the violent breakup of protests under the old regime.
In a 2019 interview with Eurasianet Balasanyan said that Pashinyan was a “Western project” and that his coming to power “wasn’t a revolution but a seizure of power by force.”