STEPANAKERT—Armenia’s top army generals and other military officials held an unprecedented meeting over the weekend in Nagorno-Karabakh, which the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said focused on their ongoing efforts to strengthen the Armenian military.
The meeting in Stepanakert, chaired by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, brought together the heads of various Defense Ministry departments, the leadership of the Armenian army’s General Staff and all major detachments as well as the commanders of Karabakh’s Armenia-backed armed forces.
A ministry statement quoted Ohanian as emphasizing the “exceptional” venue of the meeting and stressing the need to increase the effectiveness of ongoing “processes carried out in the defense system.” He also called for “deepening cooperation and exchange of experience between the armed forces of the two Armenian republics.”
According to the statement, Ohanian’s opening remarks were followed by a discussion of the results of the Armenian military’s “2013 winter training phase.” It said Armenian and Karabakh generals presented “a state of combat readiness and discipline” in the army ranks.
Ohanian was reported to issue orders on addressing “shortcomings registered during the semester” and improving efforts to boost discipline and combat readiness. He also said military commanders should do a better job of preventing “accidents,” an apparent reference to non-combat deaths of soldiers. No further details were reported.
The Stepanakert meeting followed an annual gathering of Karabakh Armenian officers, during which they discussed the situation along the “line of contact” east and north of Karabakh.
The meeting came less than a month after Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev voiced fresh threats to win back the disputed territory and other Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it at a military parade in Baku. Aliyev claimed last week that offensive weapons displayed by the Azerbaijani army scared many Armenians. Some of those weapons were recently purchased by Azerbaijan from Russia in a $1 billion deal that was disclosed by the Russian media last month.
The Armenian leadership has downplayed the Russian arms deliveries, saying that they will not undermine the military balance in the Karabakh conflict. Ohanian insisted earlier this month that a new Armenian-Azerbaijan war is unlikely to break out soon.