Former head of Armenian Armed Forces returns to office
New head of Armenian Armed Forces
Artak Davtyan has once again been appointed head of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces.
He held this position before between 2018 and 2020, but was dismissed on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s request. The reason for his dismissal was the fact that he held a celebration of his son’s wedding during the pandemic induced nationwide lockdown in Armenia when all large-scale events were banned.
Artak Davtyan’s reappointment as the head of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces was announced by the prime minister himself early in the morning on his Facebook page and later during the same day, PM Pashinyan introduced the newly appointed head of the General Staff to the highest military personnel.
Davtyan’s appointment as head of the General Staff is a continuation of the scandal which erupted following the dismissal of his predecessor, Onik Gasparyan, who, on February 25, along with other members of the Armed Forces’ senior command, called on Prime Minister Pashinyan to resign amidst the ongoing political crisis.
The prime minister called this demand an attempt at a military coup and sent a petition to the president of Armenia to dismiss Onik Gasparyan, and appoint Artak Davtyan to this post.
President Armen Sargsyan did not sign either of the documents and returned them to the prime minister with objections.
Onik Gasparyan’s lawyer announced that he was going to file a lawsuit to the prosecutor’s office against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Onik Gasparyan contested the decision on his dismissal in the administrative court and a few days ago, the court suspended the process of Gasparyan’s dismissal, pending a final decision on this case.
“The announcement of the Prime Minister [on Artak Davtyan’s entry into the post of head of the General Staff] means that he ignores the rulings of the judiciary”, Gasparyan’s lawyer said.
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Chronology of events
On March 10, Nikol Pashinyan announced that Onik Gasparyan had already been relieved of his post as head of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces, since the president, although he did not sign the decree on his dismissal submitted by the prime minister in time, did not challenge this decision in the Constitutional Court either.
President Armen Sargsyan sent a statement to the Constitutional Court with a request to determine the constitutionality of the amendments to the law “on military service and the status of servicemen,” which outlines the procedure for appointing and dismissing the head of the General Staff.
At the same time, the prime minister sent the president a proposal to appoint Artak Davtyan as Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces.
On March 11, the prime minister’s office received objections from the president on the proposal for Davtyan’s appointment but the prime minister did not accept them and once again sent a “letter with appropriate justifications” to President Sargsyan asking him to approve Artak Davtyan as the new head of the General Staff.
The president never signed the proposal on the appointment of Artak Davtyan, but did not challenge this decision in the Constitutional Court either. Therefore, “the decree on the appointment of Davtyan came into motion on March 22”, said PM Pashunyan in his Facebook post.
The prime minister calls on the military to remain neutral
“You all know that Davtyan left the post of Chief of the General Staff for a reason that had nothing to do with his service. It should be noted that during this period we were constantly in touch, and it was clear that his professional potential must be used in our state affairs”, the prime minister said while introducing the new head of the General Staff to the senior members of staff.
Nikol Pashinyan stressed that he does not hold a grudge against the military men, who co-signed the statement calling for his resignation but demanded that the army remain neutral in the future and not enter politics.
The new head of the General Staff, Artak Davtyan, assured that the Armed Forces will no longer participate in political affairs:
“The Armed Forces of Armenia, controlled by the government and the civil society under the country’s Constitution, will remain neutral in political matters, guided solely by the obligations to ensure the security, territorial integrity, and inviolability of the borders of Armenia”.