STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)—Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan inspected Armenian frontline positions east of Nagorno-Karabakh and hailed soldiers serving there as “heroes” on Tuesday on the second day of his visit to the disputed territory.
Video footage and photographs released by the Armenian government’s press office showed a camouflage-clad Sarkisian walking through a fortified trench at an undisclosed section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around Karabakh. He was also shown driving a battle tank and practicing shooting at a nearby Karabakh Armenian army unit.
Sarkisian, accompanied by Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and Karabakh’s top military commander, Lieutenant General Movses Hakobian, then addressed the unit’s personnel.
“Dear soldiers, you must be proud of serving in Nagorno-Karabakh’s Defense Army and being representatives of a victorious army,” the office quoted him as telling them. “You must continue the traditions which your parents established by winning the fight for Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“The government of the Republic of Armenia will spare no effort to ensure that you have all the possibilities of enhancing your combat-readiness … What you are doing here is a heroic act,” added the prime minister.
Sargsyan mentioned Azerbaijan’s growing threats to forcibly win back Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it when he spoke to journalists later in the day.
“What is now happening in the Armenian armed forces is vivid proof of the fact that we are on the right track,” he said. “We have to continue working hard, to increase our [combat] skills, which is what takes places today.”
The Armenian premier traveled to Karabakh for talks with the unrecognized republic’s government leaders that focused on economic issues. They specifically discussed ways of supporting agriculture and food processing, the backbone of the local economy.
Sargsyan wrapped up the trip on Tuesday with a meeting with Karabakh farmers and government officials dealing with agriculture.