New Defense Minister Minister Suren Papikyan, PM Nikol Pashinyan and former Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan

YEREVAN — Armenian Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan has been dismissed from his post, it emerged on Monday.

The presidential press office said today that based on the proposal of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Armenian President Armen Sarkisian signed a relevant decree relieving Karapetyan, who had held the ministerial position since August, of his duties.

By another decree proposed by Pashinyan the president appointed Deputy Prime Minister Suren Papikyan new defense minister. Papikyan 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 Artsakh Armenian civilian was killed and three others wounded and three Azerbaijani soldiers were wounded in separate reported incidents during last week.

Major-General Karapetyan’s successor Papikyan has served in top positions in the Pashinyan government since the 2018 “velvet revolution.” The 35-year-old politician has no military background.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Pashinyan introduced the newly appointed Minister of Defense Suren Papikyan to the Defense Ministry personnel and the top military officials of the Armed Forces.

The Prime Minister thanked former Minister Arshak Karapetyan for his work in the Ministry of Defense and referred to the decision to appoint Suren Papikyan as Minister of Defense. “In fact, I have made an important political decision. When we met with Mr. Karapetyan this morning, he said an idea with which I cannot disagree, and which I cannot but voice. He rightly noted that the status of the Minister of Defense is perhaps the most vulnerable status in the Republic of Armenia or one of the most vulnerable. I would like to thank Mr. Karapetyan for his responsibility and courage in assuming that vulnerable status. At the same time, I would like to thank Mr. Papikyan for accepting my decision, in fact, replacing the less vulnerable status of the Deputy Prime Minister with the very vulnerable status of the Defense Minister.

Arshak Karapetyan thanked the Defense Ministry’s personnel and the officers of the Armed Forces for the joint work. “I ask everyone to consider this my last order: do everything, support the new Minister, consolidate around the new Minister. I am confident that Mr. Papikyan will be able to continue and implement the programs approved by the Government for the Armed Forces. I had a private conversation with Mr. Papikyan, I expressed my readiness to support in case of necessity. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your trust, I hope that the next Minister will be even more successful. Thank you for the joint service”, Arshak Karapetyan said.

In turn, the newly appointed Minister Suren Papikyan said, “Honorable Prime Minister, Generals, officers, dear colleagues, It is a great honor for me to assume this position in this responsible and difficult period. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for entrusting me with this responsible position. I am ready to serve the Republic of Armenia day and night.”

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