General who demanded PM Pashinyan's resignation heads of General Staff of Armenian Armed Forces
New Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia
A new Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces has been appointed. The position has been vacant for six months. At the suggestion of the Prime Minister, Major General Eduard Asryan was appointed head of the General Staff. This is one of those generals who, after the defeat in the war in Karabakh, demanded the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan.
Following the recent changes to the Defense Law, the Chief of the General Staff is also considered the First Deputy Minister of Defense, but is not authorized to replace him.
The previous head of the General Staff was Artak Davtyan. He was relieved of his post on 24 February. Together with a number of other high-ranking military officials, Davtyan appears as a defendant in a criminal case on the supply of “unsuitable missiles” to the army.
Before Artak Davtyan, Onik Gasparyan held the position of Chief of the General Staff. He was fired after he, along with 40 senior military officials, demanded the resignation of the prime minister. Pashinyan himself assessed this situation as an “attempted military coup”.
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Was the “right decision” made?”
According to the Armenian constitution, the chief of the general staff of the armed forces is the highest military position in the country. Eduard Asryan was appointed to this position for a period of five years. Since May last year, he has served as deputy chief.
In early June, Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan, answering the question of why the post of head of the General Shatab was empty, said that it was necessary to “make the right decision.” In addition, the minister said that the appointment will take place after the amendments to the law “On Defense”. Parliament approved them a week ago.
The authorities of the country say that the purpose of the changes is to increase the effectiveness of the leadership of the army.
“The package of legislative changes aims to make the administration in the Ministry of Defense and the armed forces more efficient. Here, vertical control is essential. This will help to get more detailed first-hand information about the civilian control that we carry out,” the minister said.
According to the official justification for the bill, it was necessary to clarify the powers of the staff of the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense, including the minister and head of headquarters.
Prior to the changes, the operational, technical, and logistical support of the armed forces was carried out by the General Staff. Now all these functions are entrusted to departments of the ministry. The procurement process necessary for the needs of the Armed Forces will also now be carried out by the Ministry of Defense.
“An attempt to subordinate the armed forces to the minister”
The legislative package was approved in parliament only by deputies of the ruling faction “Civil Contract”. Both opposition factions did not participate either in the meeting or in the voting.
The opposition criticized the government’s initiative and called it “an attempt to subordinate the armed forces to the minister.” The Minister of Defense himself emphasized that this is not an attempt, but a clear step in this direction.
“The armed forces should be subordinate to the Minister of Defense and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief,” Suren Papikyan said.
According to the parliamentary opposition, with this change, the government is politicizing the highest military position. This opinion was expressed by the former Minister of Defense, head of the Hayastan faction (Armenia) Seyran Ohanyan, as well as the secretary of the I have the Honor faction Tigran Abrahamyan.
“They are solving a purely domestic political problem. They believe that by doing so they will ensure comprehensive control over the military, will not allow any political statements or political actions on the part of the military at any stage,” Tigran Abrahamyan stressed, recalling the precedent with the former Chief of the General Staff Onik Gasparyan.
It turned out that in this sense the opinion of the opposition and the approach of the authorities coincide as well. MP of the ruling Civil Contract faction Armen Khachatryan did not deny that they were trying to prevent situations like this particular case.
“Yes, the chief of the general staff had no right to make such statements, he violated the constitutional norms, being a military man. And it is precisely because of this shortcoming in the law that such situations could arise. Until an appropriate situation arises, such problems in the legislation are not so obvious,” Khachatryan said.