STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has visited Nagorno-Karabakh and met with its leaders for a third time since taking office more than three months ago.
Pashinian was accompanied by Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, General Artak Davtian, during the low-key visit. The three men met twice on Sunday with Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, and General Levon Mnatsakanian, the commander of Karabakk Defense army. Pashinian’s press service issued no statements on the trip.
According to Sahakian’s office, the first meeting focused on “various issues relating to cooperation between the two Armenian republics.”
The second meeting was held at the Karabakh army headquarters in Stepanakert. A short statement by Sahakian’s office said the two sides discussed military affairs and, in particular, ways of strengthening the army. Also, Mnatsakanian was reported to brief Pashinian on the current situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact.”
The authorities in Stepanakert said in May and June that Azerbaijan is massing troops there in possible preparation for large-scale hostilities. The conflicting parties have reported few major ceasefire violations on the Karabakh frontlines since then, however.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and his recently appointed Armenian counterpart, Zohrab Mnatsakanian, held their first face-to-face talks in Brussels on July 11. The U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Mins Group, who were present at the talks, expect them they to meet again in September.