By Ruben Meloyan
Armenia has made a sixth rotation of its peacekeepers in Kosovo as a 34-member platoon left on a six-month mission to the Balkans to serve as part of a Greek battalion on Tuesday.
Addressing the soldiers leaving for Kosovo, Armenia’s Deputy Defense Minister Artur Aghabekian stressed that Armenia once again proves its readiness to make its contribution to international peacekeeping missions.
According to the deputy minister, despite the lack of experience, Armenian peacekeepers have gained an image of a reliable partner due to the last two years’ service, professional training and responsibility, which, he said, lays the foundations for establishing Armenia’s peacekeeping forces. According to Aghabekian, the peacekeeping battalion will become a basis for Armenia’s professional army.
“We expect this battalion to turn into a brigade in the future,” the deputy minister said. “In 2007, we plan to begin the establishment of the second battalion. And gradually we should remove the word ‘peacekeeper’, this should be an infantry battalion, manned with professional servicemen and must be one of the main combat-efficient subdivisions of Armenia’s armed forces: today performing peacekeeping missions and tomorrow, if necessary, doing their duty on Armenia’s borders.”
Armenian servicemen have been part of the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo since early 2004.