By Armen Zakarian
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian calls today a remarkable day for Armenia after two important documents were signed in Brussels – with NATO and the European Union.
Armenia’s individual partnership action plan (IPAP) was submitted to NATO, which Oskanian says will bring Armenia-NATO relations to a new level.
“It is the highest possible level below membership that any NATO partner country can have,” Oskanian told RFE/RL.
Oskanian presented IPAP on June 16 in the presence of ambassadors of 26 NATO-member states after which he answered their questions.
“This package will receive its final look within the next few months and thereby we will have a new document in Armenia-NATO relations that which serve as a guideline for our future actions,” Oskanian added.
According to the minister, there are three main directions in this document. The first is the issue of putting Armenia-NATO consultations on a more institutional basis, the second is reforms in Armenia’s defense system and the third is Armenia’s participation in NATO’s peacekeeping operations.
Oskanian also met NATO’s Secretary General to discuss bilateral relations, the latest developments in the Karabakh peace process as well as Armenian-Turkish relations.
Also today Oskanian submitted Armenia’s first draft plan of actions within the framework of the EU’s new neighborhood policy.
According to Oskanian, it will serve a basis for completing the Armenia-EU action plans jointly with the European Commission in the coming months, which, in its turn, “will introduce new quality in our relations with the EU.”
While in Brussels Oskanian also met with EU Council Secretary General Javier Solana as well as Foreign Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrara-Waldner
The sides discussed Armenia-EU relations, the Karabakh settlement, Armenia-Turkey relations, and possible results of the EU summit especially as concerns the adoption of the budget, which Oskanian thinks will “in one way or another impact the countries that recently joined the new neighborhood program, among which is also Armenia.”
Minister Oskanian is due to meet his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov on Friday. The meeting will be held after meetings with the OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen.
Oskanian says one should not have particularly great expectations, but added that it is the first meeting of the ministers after their meetings with the cochairmen and they have clear instructions as to in what direction they should lead the process.
“Taking into account that the presidents registered a certain positive progress during their meeting in Warsaw, our expectation from tomorrow’s meeting is to give a little context to the preliminary agreement of the presidents and possibly supply it with text. If we manage to do that, I think that will be the continuation to the progress registered by the presidents or its reaffirmation in terms of language,” Oskanian concluded.