YEREVAN—Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian addressed a government cabinet session Thursday in Yerevan, reflecting on what has transpired at the Artsakh line of contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border during the past ten days. Below is an excerpt from his report.
“In general, 2014 has been a tense time for Armenia, Artsakh and the Armenian Army. Violations of the ceasefire, the actions of saboteurs and reconnaissance groups, and the arms race, resulting in 18,000 ceasefire violations so far this year as opposed to 13,000 last year, are all a result of the war rhetoric launched by the military strategists of Azerbaijan.
“The tense situation continues. Azerbaijan is carrying out unprecedented military operations, including intensive ceasefire violations and firing on peaceful residents with large caliber arms, troop movements along the line of contact and behind the line, and an active public relations campaign.
“In addition to firing on Armenian military positions, peaceful residents in our border communities, mostly in Tavoush Province, are under constant fire. The enemy is using large caliber weapons like hand-held anti-tank projectile launchers.
“The reconnaissance infiltration operations that started on August 1 are difficult to classify as merely diversionary actions, given their intensity and scope, and given that they were often carried out in daytime, in large units, clearly aimed at capturing Armenian outposts.
“As you know, all these attempts failed. Unfortunately, we suffered losses. Their names are Zorik Gevorgyan, Gor Grigoryan, Ararat Khanoyan, Sargis Movsisyan, Azat Asoyan, Khachatour Badasyan and Aram Grigoryan. It is due to their efforts, the military command structure, and other units involved, that we were able to come away from that challenge with honor and raise high the fighting spirit of our soldiers, and thus create an overall spirit of unity and unanimity in Armenia.
“As you know, some Azerbaijani media outlets are portraying what happened as if their side came away victorious and that the Armenian side suffered huge losses. But if we compare the losses, we see that they gave 8-9 times more. The intensification of the situation in certain border villages and regions has led to panic and migration among Azerbaijani rural residents. In this regard, the police and administrative regime has been beefed up in newly constructed settlements on the border.
“We believe that the actions of the Azerbaijani military are totally in opposition to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group aimed at finding a negotiated settlement.
“To halt any further intensification of the current situation, our military forces and the Karabakh Defense Army are forced to seriously punish any ceasefire violation. As a consequence, the enemy suffers great human loss. We believe that these losses and any blood spilled are on the conscience of the military and political leadership in Azerbaijan.
“Given this situation, I believe that they have fallen victim to their own lies. For years they have preached to their people that they have a powerful army, that they are constantly rearming, that they are invincible. In this context, I must say that the Turk remains a Turk and we will act towards them according to the same rules that they wish to act with us.”