By Armen Zakarian
President Robert Kocharian spent more than two hours at Armenia’s main military academy Tuesday on a visit which he said underscores the importance he attaches to the country’s armed forces.
Hundreds of cadets of the Vazgen Sarkisian Military Institute in Yerevan paraded in neat lines to the sound of a military band after facing a detailed inspection of their skills and discipline by the head of state.
“This visit must not be viewed as an entertainment,” Kocharian told reporters. “This is part of my responsibilities. One should not look at this visit in terms of [security] threats.”
“If we care about our security, about having a role in this region, we must be certain that our army is staffed by serious officer cadres.”
Kocharian said the inspection was precipitated by his meeting last week with students at Yerevan State University. He denied any internal political motives for the move.
The academy, named after independent Armenia’s first defense minister, was set up a decade ago and has evolved into the principal supplier of junior officers to the Armenian army.