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Armenia acknowledges the role of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization in Europe’s security architecture, but expects no interference from the military alliance should a conflict break out in the South Caucasus, said President Serzh Sarkisian while visiting Brussels on Tuesday.

“As I see it, NATO is responsible also for security in Europe. As far as I understand, Europe has no other armed forces. However, what I’m saying does not mean that tomorrow NATO will come to the region should an armed conflict break out,” said Sarkisian at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

“On the other hand, Armenia has enjoyed the benefits of cooperation [with NATO] and enhanced its possibilities, which is an important circumstance for the maintenance of security,” the Armenian leader added.

Belgium - The meeting of Serzh Sarkisian, President of Armenia (L), and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, Brussels,25May,2010
For his part, Rasmussen said that while the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh remains an issue of concern for NATO, the military bloc is seeking no separate role in the settlement of the protracted conflict.

Rasmussen said NATO supported the efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group, jointly headed by the United States, France and Russia, aimed at facilitating a negotiated peace in the region.

Sarkisian’s remarks in Brussels came amid statements from different international bodies and countries, including the United States, saying that they do not recognize the validity of the parliamentary vote held in Karabakh last Sunday and calling for a continued search for peace in the conflict.

Karabakh, populated overwhelmingly by ethnic Armenians, broke away from Azerbaijan following a three-year war that left some 30,000 dead. A Russia-brokered ceasefire ended the hostilities in 1994, but peace has remained fragile since then. The current Minsk Group-mediated negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan have not brought a peace agreement yet.

The latest peace plan of the international mediators calls for the Armenian withdrawal from some of the territories held by the Karabakh military, the return of displaced people, security guarantees for Karabakh and its Armenian population and the possibility of a future referendum to decide the area’s final legal status.
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