President Serzh Sarkisian inspected military facilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and met with the Karabakh Armenian army commanders during a fresh visit to the Armenian-populated territory that ended on Thursday.
He began the three-day trip with a tour of army units deployed in Karabakh’s southeastern Martuni district, near the heavily fortified “line of contact” separating them from Azerbaijani troops.
Accompanied by Bako Sahakian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), Sarkisian watched the next day shooting exercises held at a training center of the NKR Defense Army. The drills involved special army forces and snipers.
Sarkisian, who commanded Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992-1993, met with the army’s top brass in Stepanakert later on Wednesday. Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, another former Karabakh army chief, was also in attendance.
Official Armenian and NKR sources reported no details of the meeting. The Armenian president, who wore a military uniform during the visit, made no public statements.
While in Karabakh, Sarkisian also inaugurated a newly reconstructed military hospital and a new residential complex in Stepanakert that will mainly house families of military personnel and veterans of the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan, meanwhile, condemned Sarkisian’s visit as a “provocation.” “All international organizations and countries of the world support Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev told Day.az on Wednesday. “Such actions and provocations show the true face of Serzh Sarkisian.” He said Azerbaijan will eventually regain control of Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories around it.
Sarkisian warned Baku against attempting a military solution to the Karabakh conflict during his previous trips to the disputed region and on other occasions. He insisted last August that Azerbaijan cannot gain a decisive military advantage over Armenia and will eventually come to terms with the Armenian control over Karabakh.