YEREVAN (Armenpress)-The Armenian people must be ready to respond to any possible threat to the country’s national security, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said during a visit Sunday to the border province of Tavush.
Discussing Azerbaijan’s frequent breaches of the cease-fire regime, Ohanian said that the Armenian people must recognize the military and political situation they face and be ready for any threat.
"I have instructed Armenian troops to refrain from retaliating to shots fired from the other side in a bid to avoid sparking extra tension on the border," he said.
Ohanian said he also asked the International Committee of Red Cross and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs to urge Azerbaijan to refrain from violating the ceasefire.
Permanent contacts are maintained with the Azerbaijani side in order to try and settle various problems that occur along the border, he explained.
Nevertheless, Armenia’s leadership does not underestimate the implications of Azerbaijan’s heightened war rhetoric, its recent violations of the cease-fire regime, and the attempts to remove the conflict settlement process from international mediation.
While in Tavoush, Ohanian visited the town of Noyemberian and the military units located close to the villages of Koghb and Voskepar. During the visit, the Defense Minister met with local leadership and senior army officers to discuss the situation along the border as well as housing issues and living standards for the servicemen.
The senior army officers informed Ohanian that about 40 apartmen’s have been built for officers and servicemen who serve in the region. There is also a garden for growing vegetables. A string of additional facilities, including a gym and a swimming pool will be built by the end of the year to facilitate as well.
When visiting the military unit based near the village of Voskepar, Ohanian met with Armen Azizbekian, a deputy commander of the unit to discuss Azeri activity along the border. Voskepar is one of the most dangerous sections of the Armenian-Azeri border, according to Azizbekian, who explained that Azeri soldiers have been reinforcing their positions across the border without interruption for the past 16 years.
The Armenian Armed forces are similarly reinforcing their positions along the Armenian side of the border, he noted. In the past, Azeri forces shelled a section of the road connecting the towns of Ijevan and Noyemberian, he said. But a new more secure road, circumventing the old one, was built several years ago.
Speaking to journalists the minister said he was making his first visit to this region, which has many settlemen’s near the border that periodically come under Azeri fire.
A series of structural reforms aimed at upgrading military equipment and guidelines will be enacted this year to significantly raise the efficiency of Armenia’s army.