Ter-Petrosian called “totally understandable” the February 25 statement by the military’s top brass demanding the Armenian government’s resignation. He said it was provoked by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s “careless attempt” to blame the armed forces for “his humiliating defeat” in last fall’s war with Azerbaijan.
“I welcome the military’s restrained behavior in the face of some forces’ calls and efforts to drive it into unconstitutional actions,” Ter-Petrosian said in a statement.
“At the same time, I consider extremely dangerous and condemnable irresponsible statements by some politicians portraying military coup as a positive means for making the state healthier and substantiating that [claim] with successful experiences of some countries,” he said.
The 76-year-old ex-president stressed that, as a rule, military coups have had disastrous consequences for countries around the world.
In their joint statement, the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, Onik Gasparian, and 40 other high-ranking officers said Pashinian and his cabinet must step down because they put the country “on the brink of collapse” after the autumn war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10.
Pashinian rejected the demand as a coup attempt and moved to fire Gasparian. President Armen Sarkissian appears to have at least delayed the general’s sacking. Sarkissian said last week that he will not sign a relevant presidential decree drafted by the prime minister’s office.
The military’s demands have been strongly backed by the Homeland Salvation Movement, an alliance of opposition parties campaigning for Pashinian’s resignation. Senior members of the alliance have urged Gasparian to hold on to his post in any case.
Some of them have also implicitly urged the military to overthrow Pashinian and his cabinet, saying that the current authorities are not capable of dealing with serious security challenges facing Armenia. The Homeland Salvation Movement has not officially voiced such demands, though. It has demanded instead that Sarkissian ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of Gasparian’s dismissal sought by Pashinian.
Sarkissian discussed the issue with a representative of the opposition alliance on Sunday. The presidential press office gave no details of the meeting.
The alliance coordinator, Ishkhan Saghatelian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the president again did not clarify whether he will appeal to the Constitutional Court.