Chief Karabakh Commander Says Borders Safely Protected

Kim Gabrielyan’s

July 17 2008

"Artsakh’s borders are safely protected"

The defence minister of the Nagornyy Karabakh republic [NKR] and
commander of the defence forces, Movses Hakobyan, is basically content
with the work carried out by the defence ministry in the first half of
this year. Speaking about this at a news conference [in Stepanakert
(Xankandi)] yesterday [16 July], the minister said that the NKR
president also assessed positively the results of recent inspections in
the army. With the exception of the March events, when the Azerbaijani
side carried out subversive operations in Mardakert [Agdara] section
of the contact line and received an appropriate response, no other
notable events occurred on the contact line. Positional changes
were made on the contact line in June to improve the positions of
the defence forces. Engineer work, which will be completed soon,
is being carried out now.

The commander-in-chief said it was difficult to organize combat duty
especially against the background of Azerbaijan’s periodical bellicose
statements. However, the defence troops are carrying out their task
with honour – the NKR borders are safely protected nowadays, the
minister said.

[Passage omitted: the minister spoke about providing apartments to
military staff]

Asked about what is being done to resume grain harvesting in the border
areas, where harvesting has been interrupted due to shooting from the
Azerbaijani side, the minister said that haymaking has already started
in these areas. The defence troops are taking security measures so
that the haymakers can complete harvesting safely.

Asked about the spring conscription, the commander of the defence
troops said that the number of conscripts exceeded the planned figure
by 10 per cent. There are no more ill people in the army, and there
are no more such problems, the minister said.

Azg’s question was about the possibility of the involvement of the
NKR army, which is said to have a high combat capability, in joint
military manoeuvres and peacekeeping measures. Hakobyan said that the
NKR armed forces participate in military manoeuvres, as for carrying
out peacekeeping measures, the defence troops are satisfied with
ensuring the security of their country only, considering it to be
their major mission.

At the request of the journalists, Hakobyan spoke about the military
parade which took place in Baku in the end of June, describing it
as demonstration of the military might ahead of the presidential
election in Azerbaijan to be held in autumn. The NKR defence troops
are aware of the military capacity of the Azerbaijani army not only
via TV broadcasts, but they also have more precise information on the
real force of the opponent. The NKR minister said that many models
of weapons that Azerbaijan demonstrated to its own people had been
acquired by the Karabakh armed forces before.

Hakobyan said that the periodic exchanges of fire on the contact line
were exclusively the initiative of subdivisions of the Azerbaijani
troops. Two servicemen died on the Armenian side and 32 on the
Azerbaijani side in the first half of this year.