Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu

US, Turkey Warn Armenian Military Not to Meddle In Politics

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WASHINGTON (RFE/RL) — The US State Department has warned Armenia’s armed forces to stay out of politics but stopped short of calling their demands for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation a coup attempt.

The department spokesman, Ned Price, said late on Thursday, February 25, that the United States is “very closely” monitoring political developments in Armenia.

“We urge all parties to exercise restraint and to avoid any escalatory or violent actions,” Price told a daily news briefing in Washington. “We remind all parties of the bedrock democratic principle that states’ armed forces should not intervene in domestic politics.”

“The United States has been a steadfast supporter of the development of democratic processes and institutions in Armenia. We continue to support Armenia’s democracy and its sovereignty, and we urge its leaders to resolve their differences peacefully while respecting the rule of law, Armenia’s democracy, and its institutions,” he said.

The US Embassy in Yerevan issued a similar statement earlier on Thursday amid mounting political tensions in the country.

In an unprecedented statement, the Armenian military’s top brass demanded the resignation of Pashinyan and his government, accusing them of putting Armenia “on the brink of destruction” after the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Pashinyan rejected the demand as an attempt to stage a military coup.

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Price made clear that the military’s actions have so far not met Washington’s definition of a coup d’etat.

“As you know, the Department of State has a process to determine whether a coup has transpired … Of course, there has been no such determination in this case,” he said.

Unlike Pashinyan, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian did not describe the military’s demands as a coup attempt. Also, Sarkissian was in no rush to sack the chief of the army’s General Staff, Onik Gasparyan, and planned on Friday to meet the latter as part of his efforts to de-escalate the political situation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned on Friday, February 26, what he described as attempts to stage a military coup in Armenia.

“[Prime Minister] Nikol Pashinyan is already in a situation where the people could achieve his resignation. But if they are talking about a direct overthrow of the government then our position is clear: we are against such steps,” he said, according to the Anadolu news agency.

“Turkey opposes any coups, including in Armenia,” added Erdogan, who himself was nearly overthrown by Turkish army units in 2016.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu made similar comments on Thursday.

“It is unacceptable when the military demands the resignation of an elected government,” he said. “So we condemn the coup attempt in Armenia.”

Turkish leaders have rarely commented on domestic political developments in Armenia in the past.

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