STEPANAKERT — Azerbaijan on Tuesday reacted angrily after Armenia’s Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan visited Nagorno-Karabakh ahead of the first anniversary of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

The Armenian Defense Ministry revealed the two-day visit on Monday, saying that Karapetyan travelled to Karabakh on Saturday at the invitation of Kamo Vartanyan, the commander of Karabakh’s Defense  army.

The ministry released a short video and photographs that showed Karapetyan meeting with the Defense Army’s top brass and inspecting some of its outposts along the new Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” in and around Karabakh.

In one of the military units of the Defense Army, addressing the servicemen guarding the borders of Artsakh, the Armenian Defense Minister stressed that the most important guarantee of peace is an army capable of fulfilling its combat tasks.

Highly appreciating the efforts made to protect the borders of Artsakh during the 44-day war and after it, Arshak Karapetyan awarded a number of servicemen of the Defense Army with diplomas and departmental medals of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry angrily condemned the trip as a violation of the terms of the ceasefire which it said was aimed at “destabilizing the situation in the region” and discrediting Russian peacekeepers deployed in Karabakh.

The ministry warned that “in case of a repeat of such illegal visits to Azerbaijani territory necessary measures will be taken to prevent aggressive separatism and terrorist activities in accordance with Azerbaijan’s laws.” It did not elaborate.

Incidentally, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Monday visited the Karabakh town of Shushi captured by Azerbaijani forces during the six-week war and met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev there. The visit underscored Ankara’s decisive military support for Baku shown during the six-week hostilities.

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