Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
● What’s going on with the Armed Forces?
○ Turkey: Enemy no more?
○ What Just Happened in the General Staff?
○ Morale and Readiness of the Armed Forces
○ The Defense Budget
● Report from Syunik
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
George Tabakian who is the Co-founder of Repat Armenia Foundation and Sahman NGO and Executive director of Arar Foundation which works mainly on projects with the Ministry of Defense of Armenia.
Karen Vrtanesyan, editor of Razm.info, a specialty website on military and warfare strategies with a focus on Armenia and its neighboring region.
Yesterday, Armen Grigoryan, Secretary of the National Security Council of Armenia gave an interview to Armenian Public TV. Grigoryan’s answers about Turkey sparked a lot of criticism in social media.
According to Armenia’s National Security Strategy, published in July of 2020, Turkey is distinctly mentioned as a national security threat. Yet, during the interview, Petros Ghazaryan asked Grigoryan directly three times whether Turkey continues to be considered an enemy of Armenia and each time he refused to answer. Instead, he hinted that there’s a review of that stance mentioning regional integration processes currently going on.
Coupled with Pashinyan’s public speeches last week - where he said that “we’re enemies because we perceive (others) as enemies” - is a new rapprochement with Turkey forthcoming?
How realistic can these public statements be when we’re just coming out of a humiliating defeat in a war where Turkey played a pivotal role in killing 5000 Armenians? Is this naiveté or just wishful thinking?
The last few months have been a difficult time for the Armenian armed forces, but the last month has been especially demoralizing.
The chief of the general staff, Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan joined a wide spectrum of the Armenia and Diaspora people and organizations in calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister and the current government. The call was co-signed by 40 generals of the army, and some prominent generals like Grigory Khachaturov have also been very vocal.
Prime Minister Pashinyan immediately rejected the call and labeled it a military coup against his government. It’s notable that Turkey immediately joined Pashinyan in calling the Gasparyan’s letter a coup, while most of the rest of the world waited to see the development, and saw no tanks rolling, no violence, no other evidence of a coup in Armenia.
Gasparyan was summarily dismissed despite the procedural delays within the power of the President, Armen Sarkisian. Gasparyan has appealed his dismissal to the constitutional court, and that is still going on.
And we’re not even talking about Gasparyan’s deputy, Tiran Khachatryan, who was also summarily dismissed by PM Pashinyan.
What is going on between PM Pashinyan and the Army?
Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan appointed Lieutenant-General Artak Davtyan to a new position created for Davtyan as “senior officer for special assignments” on March 9, 2021 and one day later, Pashinyan nominated Davtyan as chief of the General Staff. This, too, met the procedural “protest” available to the President, but nevertheless it went forward. Davtyan previously served as the current government’s Chief of the General Staff until June 2020.
Who is Artak Davtyan?
● Is he qualified?
● What are some of his successes from 2018-2020? What are some of his failures?
● Is the Air Force in the same predicament as the Army?
Since the end of the war on November 10, Russia has been resupplying the Armenian armed forces. The Armenian defense ministers, Harutyunyan and Sergei Shoigu, have also made numerous statements about rebuilding the Armenian armed forces in the post-war era.
What is the essence of these reforms? Are the Russians just replenishing the tanks and missiles, or are there provisions to do the hard work and modernizing the weapons and training Armenia’s army to a qualitatively new level? How is the morale and state of readiness of the armed forces?
A couple of weeks ago we read that Deputy prime ministers Tigran Avinyan and Mher Grigoryan, as well as Pashinyan’s chief of staff Arsen Torosyan are all pushing for cuts to the military’s budget. The military has not been included in these discussions, and according to 168, Avinyan has even humiliated military reps by quipping at them that they lost the war, so what are they doing with all the money anyway? Of course, Azerbaijani press picked up on this discussion!
We don’t know much about these cuts: how much are they talking about, and what sort of cuts are being discussed?
George Tabakian: You visited Syunik last week. Can you tell us what you saw?
Total uncertainty within the population especially in the border villages - mainly because of the security situation. It’s quiet on the new border with Azerbaijan. No major incidents were recorded. There were a couple of sheep crossing the nonexistent border and were returned with Russian mediation.
People are more adequate and more aware of what’s going than in Yerevan or other regions. Nikol and his team are labelled as traitors. My Step supporters are very few in Syunik villages and cities.
A new political party has been formed from previous HHK members who were the mayors of the big cities and the previous governor of the region. They are getting organized for the coming elections
Members of the government, including the PM are not visiting the region. The highest-ranking government employee was the PM’s advisor.
Our Sahman NGO just moved from Tavush to Syunik to support the border villagers to stay in their villages.
That concludes our program for This Week in Review episode. We hope it has helped your understanding of some of the issues from the previous week. We look forward to your feedback, and your suggestions for issues to cover in greater depth. Contact us on our website, at groong.org, or on our Facebook Page “ANN - Groong”, or in our Facebook Group “Groong - Armenian News Network”.
Special thanks to Laura Osborn for providing the music for our podcast. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channels, Like our pages and follow us on social media. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
Armenia, Artsakh, Syunik, Ceasefire Agreement, November 10, Nikol Pashinyan, Onik Gasparyan, Artak Davtyan, My Step, Call for Resignation, Azerbaijan, Russia, Karabakh, Yerevan, Armed Forces, Turkey, Border, Gupatly, Zangelan, Border Guards,
Additional: George Tabakyan, Karen Vrtanesyan, Armen Sarkisian,