By Emil Danielyan
President Robert Kocharian has conducted a two-day inspection of Armenian troops deployed along the volatile frontline with Azerbaijan, his office said on Wednesday.
A statement by the presidential press service in Yerevan said Kocharian visited “a number of frontline army units” on Monday and Tuesday to assess their “combat and technical readiness.” “The president of the republic visited firing ranges, followed the course of trainings, talked to officers and soldiers, and familiarized himself with their living conditions,” it said.
The statement did not specify the location of the inspected units. But photographs released by Kocharian’s office showed the Armenian leader in the company of Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, the commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh army Lieutenant-General Seyran Ohanian and Karabakh leader Arkady Ghukasian, suggesting that he toured heavily militarized areas around the Armenian-controlled disputed region. The four men, all of them natives of Karabakh, were shown wearing army uniforms, with Kocharian shaking hands with soldiers and inspecting their seemingly brand new light weaponry.
Kocharian’s previous tour of Armenian frontline positions was reported in November 2004. His latest inspection coincided with the start of the Karabakh Armenian army’s regular military exercises held near the no-man’s land separating it from Azerbaijani forces. A military spokesman in Stepanakert was reported to say that Karabakh army units will practice coordination of their actions in “defense battles and counteroffensives.”
News reports from Baku said residents of Azerbaijani villages located close to the Karabakh frontline heard powerful explosions late on Tuesday. Local residents were also cited as saying that Azerbaijani army positions in the area came under Armenian fire. The Armenian and Azerbaijani militaries did not immediately comment on the reports.
(Presidential press service photo)