President Serzh Sarkisian inspected Armenian troops deployed along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan and proceeded to Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday as his foreign minister, Edward Nalbandian, discussed the Karabakh peace process with lawmakers in Yerevan.
Photographs released by the presidential press service showed a uniform-clad Sarkisian visiting military bases in northeastern Armenia and shaking hands with soldiers serving there and their commanders. He was accompanied by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, Colonel-General Yuri Khachaturov.
A statement by the service said the commander of an army corps deployed in the area briefed Sarkisian on the situation along the volatile frontier where serious ceasefire violations have been a regular occurrence this year. It said the president then headed to Karabakh on a “working visit.”
Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev are expected to meet next month for talks which international mediators hope will help to relaunch the stalled peace process and ease tensions along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the Line of Contact around Karabakh.
In Yerevan, meanwhile, Foreign Minister Nalbandian visited the National Assembly to meet with members of the parliament committee on foreign relations and the Armenian delegation at the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE). The meeting held behind the closed the doors lasted for about an hour.
“We discussed issues related to our foreign policy,” Nalbandian told reporters afterwards. He confirmed that the Karabakh issue was on the agenda but refused to go into details.
Other participants of the meeting were also tight-lipped. Artak Zakarian, the committee chairman, admitted only that they discussed with Nalbandian a draft PACE resolution that demands Armenian withdrawal from Karabakh and the territory’s return to Azerbaijani rule.
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have warned the PACE against adopting the resolution, drafted by a pro-Azerbaijani former British parliamentarian, at its next session in Strasbourg in January.