May 15, 2010 Saturday

Armenia : Armenia, NATO Review Growing Cooperation

NATO's top governing body reviewed growing cooperation with Armenia
during an annual meeting with key members of the Armenian government
that was held at the NATO headquarters in Brussels late on Wednesday.

Addressing the North Atlantic Council, Armenia s Foreign Minister
Edward Nalbandian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian reportedly
reaffirmed their country s commitment to pursue closer ties with the
Western alliance.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, they briefed the body
representing the 28 NATO member states on the current status of
Armenia s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with the alliance
and the resulting defense reforms carried out by Yerevan. A ministry
statement issued on Thursday said they also answered numerous
questions from council members relating to Armenian foreign policy and
recent developments in the region.

On behalf of their states, the ambassadors of NATO member states
voiced support for Armenia s steps aimed at the establishment of
peace, stability and security in the South Caucasus, read the
statement. They also expressed their satisfaction with the results of
the IPAP, it said.

The cooperation framework launched in 2005 commits the South Caucasus
state to implementing defense reforms aimed at bringing its armed
forces into greater conformity with NATO standards and practices. The
IPAP also envisages greater Armenian participation in NATO-led
multinational missions and military exercises. The Armenian military
most recently hosted such drills in late 2008.

In addition, Armenia is a member of the NATO-led International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, having deployed a
40-strong army detachment near the northern Afghan city of Kunduz
earlier this year. Another 70 Armenian soldiers have been serving
under NATO command in Kosovo.

Ohanian arrived in Brussels from Berlin where he attended earlier this
week a meeting of the defense ministers of 15 nations that make up the
German-led ISAF units stationed in northern Afghanistan.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry cited NATO s Deputy Secretary General
Claudio Bisogniero as again thanking Yerevan for the Afghan mission at
a separate meeting with Ohanian and Nalbandian held earlier on
Wednesday. It said Bisogniero highly appreciated progress registered
in a number of areas of cooperation with Armenia.

Ministers Nalbandian and Ohanian reaffirmed Armenia s readiness to
continue the mutually beneficial cooperation with NATO, added the
ministry statement. The NATO headquarters issued on statements on the
Brussels meetings.

Armenian leaders have repeatedly made clear that despite their desire
to forge closer security links with the West, Armenia has no plans to
seek NATO membership and will remain a part of the Russian-led
Collective Security Treaty Organization in the foreseeable future.