Armenian Defense Minister resigns as tensions rise at Armenian-Azerbaijani border
There is an opinion that the resignation of Armenian Defense Minister is directly related to the situation on the border with Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani Armed Forces invaded the sovereign territory of Armenia from positions to the east. As a result, four combat positions of the Armenian Armed Forces found themselves in the blockade. The events took place on November 14th. As a result of negotiations mediated by the Russian side, Azerbaijani servicemen and armored vehicles were withdrawn from the territory of Armenia. However, the Armenian units also left their four positions.
The Security Council of Armenia informed the residents of the country about the incident only the next day, on November 15. This message was immediately followed by the resignation of Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan. By the decision of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, his associate, former Deputy Prime Minister Suren Papikyan, has already been appointed to the post.
“This decision was made as a result of an analysis of the events unfolding since yesterday”, the prime minister said at a meeting of the Security Council.
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PM Pashinyan’s statements
Nikol Pashinyan stated that the country is facing serious challenges, and he made an important political decision:
“The assessments can be different, emotional, but you need to understand that the leadership of the country, the government of Armenia clearly understand what actions need to be taken to counter these challenges on the path of long-term and stable development”.
The prime minister said this when introducing the new minister to the generals and leadership of the Armed Forces. At the same time, Pashinyan stressed that Suren Papikyan is his political associate, but he also continues to consider Arshak Karapetyan a member of his team.
According to political scientist Benjamin Poghosyan, if one takes the statement of the Security Council as a basis, then the dismissal of the Minister of Defense can be seen as a direct consequence of the loss of 4 combat posts:
“This is despite the fact that, according to our law on defense, first of all, the General Staff is responsible for day-to-day activities, operational management of the armed forces and, according to this logic, the question of dismissing the head of the General Staff should have been raised”.
On the other hand, the political scientist draws parallels with the events of May this year, when the Azerbaijani Armed Forces invaded the sovereign territory of Armenia, but then the minister was not dismissed and the political scientist asks why then there was a “zero reaction to territorial losses”.
He draws attention to the fact that on the evening of November 14, the Ministry of Defense issued a statement, which said that “the enemy’s attempts to take positions on this territory were prevented”. Benjamin Poghosyan recalls: Prime Minister Pashinyan said at today’s meeting that yesterday the events were discussed in the Security Council.
“It turns out that the message of the Ministry of Defense was published after a discussion in the Security Council. It is unlikely that the text was not consistent in this format. Why did they decide last night to give other, in fact, false information, and today – the real one? A lot of questions arise, the answers to which simply do not exist”, Benjamin Poghosyan emphasizes.
The political scientist says that after the 44-day war in Karabakh, nothing has changed – the Ministry of Defense has not abandoned the practice of providing the public with false information:
“This further undermines the credibility of information provided by government agencies. This will lead to the fact that more and more people will begin to believe the information of the Azerbaijani side on the events taking place in Artsakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations”.
He explains the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister Suren Papikyan as Minister of Defense by the fact that “the Prime Minister needs a person who is devoted to him, who can be trusted 100%”.
According to the political scientist, the new minister has nothing to do with the armed forces, and it is unclear how effectively he will work.
Political observer Hakob Badalyan also asks questions that have no answers and speaks about the responsibility of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces:
“The leadership of the Armed Forces is the function of the head of the General Staff. Or are the problems in the political field?”
Badalyan recalls the recent visit of Arshak Karapetyan as minister to the unrecognized NKR. It took place on November 6, and was followed by a sharp reaction from official Baku. A similar reaction took place 10 months ago, when Ara Ayvazyan, who at that time held the post of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, visited NKR.
“This visit itself raised the question of what has changed, why Armenia is challenging Baku. Or is Russia doing it through Armenia?”, Badolyan wrote on his Facebook page.
After Arshak Karapetyan’s visit, tensions increased on the border with Azerbaijan, and the journalist wonders whether Arshak Karapetyan played “some kind of game of his own or became a scapegoat”. He believes that it is unlikely that society will soon receive answers to these questions.
The political observer emphasizes that the escalation of tension on the borders of Armenia occurs immediately after the Paris meeting of the Minsk Group co-chairs [in this format, peace talks on the Karabakh conflict were held before the war in 2020, now there is an attempt to revive this process – JAMnews] and the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“Is Baku unhappy with this meeting, including with the co-chairs, or is Ankara unhappy?”, Hakob Badalyan asks one more question without an answer.
Political scientist Tigran Grigoryan also sees a direct link between border tensions and the minister’s resignation. However, he believes that Karapetyan’s resignation is, first of all, the result of a failed government policy:
“After the war, no noticeable steps were taken to restore order in the catastrophic situation on the border, the expected concrete changes did not take place.
And the fact that the heads of key departments change with such a frequency is alarming, since this cannot contribute to the normal operation of the state apparatus and the country’s internal political stability”.
As for the figure of Papikyan, who was appointed to the post of defense minister, Grigoryan notes that this is not the first time that a person who has nothing to do with the army appears in this position:
“Perhaps the fact that Papikyan is not a person from this system will allow him to overcome the bureaucratic, stagnant situation that exists in the Ministry of Defense”.