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Thaw With Turkey ‘Good For Armenia-NATO Ties’


Belgium -- Top officials from Armenia and NATO meet in Brussels on 20May2009

Belgium -- Top officials from Armenia and NATO meet in Brussels on 20May2009

The normalization of the Turkish-Armenian relations but not only help to reconcile the two nations but also foster NATO’s closer cooperation with Armenia and improve its image in the ex-Soviet republic, an official from the U.S.-led alliance said on Tuesday.

“I think that with the warming of Armenia’s relations with Turkey, the alliance’s [cooperation] opportunities in the country will increase, Zbigniew Rybacki, a NATO liaison officer for the Caucasus, told a news conference in Yerevan.

Rybacki argued that many Armenians still mistrust NATO because of their pro-Russian sentiment and arch-rival Turkey’s membership in the alliance. “Certainly, the not-so-good perception of the alliance within Armenian society has been affected by the lack of relations between your country and Turkey,” he said. “Turkey is a member of NATO and the Armenian population, having this in mind, perceives the alliance through relations or lack of relations with Turkey.”

“Therefore, I believe that as soon as you establish diplomatic relations and open borders with Turkey, in some time -- it’s not going to happen very soon but in some time -- the perception of your population of the alliance will be much better than now,” added Rybacki.

A perceived security threat from Turkey has been the main reason for Armenia’s heavy reliance on Russia for defense and security. The presence of a Russian military presence in the country is a major element of Yerevan’s national security strategy.

Still, Armenia has increasingly sought in recent years to “complement” its military alliance with Russia
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