Court Claim: Fired diplomats sure of imminent reinstatement in jobs

A number of diplomats who, according to the Foreign Ministry, violated the Law on Diplomatic Service by making a political statement in the tense post-election period and were immediately relieved of their jobs are full of decision and hope that their pending legal action will help them return to the system.

The statement made by six employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 24 whereby they expressed their concern over the situation fraught with undesirable domestic and foreign challenges for Armenia, became the reason for the then Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan to order their dismissal from their jobs.

Lawyer Levon Baghdasaryan, who defends the interests of four of the fired diplomats that later took the matter to court, including press secretary Vladimir Karapetyan, head of the America and Canada Division Karine Afrikyan, NATO division head Marta Ayvazyan and Europe division advisor Arakel Semirjan, said at the Urbat press club on Monday that the case had been presented to the public and Armenia’s statesmen, including to Oskanyan, in a wrong way.

“As a result, an erroneous idea was formed that diplomats using their positions or means available to them due to their jobs carried out political or religious activities. In reality, no proof was presented to the preliminary court session that the diplomats used means available to them due to their jobs in favor of political parties or for other political or religious activities,” Baghdasaryan said.

This fact gives reason to Baghdasaryan and his clients to expect that the court will satisfy their claim.

“I am sure that the court will recognize that we haven’t broken any law and that this precedent can be very useful for society,” former Ministry spokesman Vladimir Karapetyan said.

“On May 14 (the day of the court hearing) I am going to make a speech wherein I will prove that every thought in that statement corresponds to the approaches of the foreign minister (Vardan Oskanyan), furthermore to the approaches of the country’s supreme authorities,” Karapetyan added.

The statement on the basis of which the diplomats were dismissed from their jobs followed the one spread by Armenia’s three ambassadors and Deputy Foreign Minister Armen Bayburdyan (who were promptly relieved of duties and stripped of their ambassadorial ranks) in which they in particular expressed their solidarity with former president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan protesting against the official vote results.

While four of the six Foreign Ministry employees claim their message did not contain a political statement but was an expression of a civil position and concern, the Foreign Ministry insists that joining the previous statement of the ambassadors at the very beginning of the message could not be viewed otherwise and testified to the political nature of the statement, which is against the law.

Considering this, Arakel Semirjyan said that they did not give any name, that about 500 diplomats work in the Foreign Ministry system and the sentence of the statement where it is said that they “join their colleagues” cannot constitute proof.

Baghdasaryan said that if they meet a failure in court they will continue to apply to higher instances in Armenia and Europe.