President Serzh Sarkisian inspected Armenian frontline positions around Nagorno-Karabakh and was due to meet top military officials in Stepanakert during a low-key visit to the territory on Wednesday.
Accompanied by Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, Sarkisian arrived in Karabakh in the morning on what his press service called a two-day working visit.
Officials said the two men, both of them natives of Karabakh, proceeded to undisclosed sections of the main Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact immediately after being greeted by Karabakh President Bako Sahakian.
Sarkisian, who had commanded Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992-1993, also attended the inauguration of a new apartment block built in the southern Hadrut district for local army officers and their families. He was scheduled to meet in Stepanakert with the top brass of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army later on Wednesday.
Neither Sarkisian, nor Sahakian made any public statements. Officials in their administrations declined to comment on further details of the visit or reasons for it.
Sarkisian’s trip came two weeks after his fresh talks with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev held on the sidelines of a CIS summit in Chisinau, Moldova. International mediators present at the talks said the two leaders moved closer to overcoming their differences over a framework peace accord put forward by the OSCE Minsk Group.
Aliyev said, however, that the meeting was “unproductive” as the parties “failed to reach agreement on the main issues under discussion.” His foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, claimed last week that Yerevan has toughened its position on some issues that were “agreed upon two or three years ago.” “The Armenian side probably thinks that if its negotiations with Turkey are moving forward then it can freeze other processes,” he said.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry dismissed those claims on Monday, insisting that Yerevan is not backpedaling on any of the agreements reached by the parties.