Armenia’s minister of defense on Wednesday dismissed the reports about increased tension close to Nakhichevan’s military positions, saying that the Armenian troops have managed to avert an aggressive attack by Azerbaijan’s armed forces.
“[Our] armed forces have taken the necessary steps to neutralize attempts to reduce the area lying between military positions in the direction of Nakhichevan,” Davit Tonoyan told reporters.
He said that despite the relative peace in the recent period, the military is strongly recommended to be permanently be prepared for a war at any moment.“We always expect renewed military actions which by the way [may be provoked] not only by Azerbaijan,” he added.
Asked to comment on the strong-worded message to Azerbaijan in his recent interview with EADaily (Tonoyan’s warning was perceived by the Azerbaijani leadership as an attempt to lash out at the country), the minister said he has nothing to add to what he already mentioned. “Apart from just making a statement, I also rely on the brevity of spirit and the preparedness of our armed forces,” he said.
Addressing corruption in the military, Tonoyan said they now observe certain risks in connection with the recent achievements. “There are corruption risks which used to be organizational in character, but the fight against it is a real, ongoing process. The new government and prime minister have established specific criteria, so our work is in progress at the moment,” he added.
Asked whether the billions of Armenian Drams returned to the State Budget inspire any chances for increasing the salaries in the public sector, the minister ruled out such plans for the nearest future. “We are not planning that for 2019, but the military budget will essentially increase,” he said.