The presidential press office said today that based on the proposal of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, Armenian President Armen Sarkisian signed a relevant decree relieving Karapetian, who had held the ministerial position since August, of his duties.
By another decree proposed by Pashinian the president appointed Deputy Prime Minister Suren Papikian new defense minister. Papikian was relieved of his duties as deputy prime minister prior to that.
The changes come after two days of reported skirmishes between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces along the border between the two countries as well as tensions within Nagorno-Karabakh where one ethnic Armenian civilian was killed and three others wounded and three Azerbaijani soldiers were wounded in separate reported incidents during last week.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian convened a Security Council meeting on Monday during which he discussed “an Azeri incursion into Armenia’s territory at one of the sections of the eastern border.” He also announced the replacement of the defense minister, stressing that the decision was made “as a result of the analysis of the events unfolding since yesterday.”
The escalation of tensions coincided with a two-day visit of Karapetian to Nagorno-Karabakh reported by Armenia’s Defense Ministry early last week.
Azerbaijan strongly condemned that visit by a senior Armenian official made around the first anniversary of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war. Authorities in Baku claimed that the trip was a violation of the terms of the ceasefire “aimed at destabilizing the situation in the region.”
Major-General Karapetian’s successor Papikian has served in top positions in the Pashinian government since the 2018 “velvet revolution.” The 35-year-old politician has no military background.