In a tense atmosphere, opponents and supporters of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gathered on February 25 in the center of the Armenian capital of Yerevan. Some demanded the departure of a head of government criticized since the crushing defeat suffered by the country against Azerbaijan last fall, others denounced a call for resignation launched by the army on the same day and described by Nikol Pashinyan like a “Coup attempt”.
The communiqué, issued on the evening of February 24 and signed by nearly forty senior officers of the Armenian General Staff, called for the departure of an accused prime minister “Errors” who would have “Put the country on the brink of collapse”.
“The armed forces have long tolerated attacks by the current government aimed at discrediting the army, but everything has its limits” continued the message, which itself followed the dismissal by the Prime Minister of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Onnik Gasparyan.
An “unprecedented” intervention
“The armed forces have become politicized for the very first time” has been worried since Yerevan, Richard Giragosian, director of the think tank « Regional Studies Center ». “It is unprecedented, and it is a major threat to the stability of relations between the army and the authorities”.
Perched on a stage hastily installed on Republic Square in Yerevan and surrounded by thousands of supporters, Nikol Pashinyan directly attacked the army: “Those who act against the people and their legitimate authority act against the state”, he chanted before taking the lead of a march.
→ ANALYSIS. Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire tears Armenians apart
The intervention of the army represents a new escalation in the standoff in which Nikol Pashinyan has been engaged since November with the opposition. The ceasefire agreement signed that month enshrines the defeat of Armenian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of Azerbaijan, controlled by the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh since 1994 and supported by Armenia, a thus stunned the country and triggered a frantic search for an official.
“Armenian power has totally failed to prepare society for this defeat”, explique Richard Giragosian. “We are now in uncharted territory because Pashinyan is on the one hand the first leader of Armenia not to control Nagorno Karabakh, while the opposition remains totally discredited. They are at an impasse. “
The pressure is enormous for Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power following the “Velvet revolution” of 2018. On February 25, the former President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan thus joined the calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister while Vazgen Manukyan, former Prime Minister of Armenia and leader of the opposition , called on opponents to sit in front of parliament until the Prime Minister leaves.