Armenia intends to expand its military-technical cooperation with international partners, including some NATO-member states, as part of an ongoing reform of its defense industry, a representative of military authorities in Yerevan said on Wednesday.
Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that negotiations in this direction were underway with a number of potential partners, including some leading companies in the West.
“In this sphere we try to cooperate not only with our traditional partners, but also with the world’s leading companies of the industry, and their experience is very important,” he said, adding that details about cooperation projects will be announced as soon as specific agreements are reached.
The Defense Ministry representative emphasized that Armenia examined prospects of being involved in “interesting and attractive projects” not only with former Soviet countries and Warsaw Pact members but also Western countries, including those representing NATO.
Senior military officials in Armenia began to talk about the need to upgrade the country’s military-industrial complex still about two years ago. In December 2011, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian approved the concept of reforms and development for the defense industry, with a number of agreements promoting these reforms announced in the recent period.
Last month Armenia announced plans to bolster its domestic defense industry through closer ties with NATO member states as Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and his Italian counterpart, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, visiting Yerevan, signed an agreement on wide-ranging bilateral military cooperation. Later in October, after talks with the visiting United States Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, the Armenian defense chief, in particular, declared that Yerevan hoped to start cooperating with U.S. defense industries.
Finally, last week, the Armenian government approved an agreement under which Armenia and Russia are to start jointly manufacturing weapons and other military equipment in what is expected to give a further boost to the already existing close defense ties between the two allies.
The Armenian Defense Ministry official stressed that deeper military-technical cooperation with Russia is of key importance to Armenia considering the fact that the bulk of the weaponry used by Armenian armed forces is of Russian make.
Hovannisian did not exclude that weapons jointly produced by Armenian and Russian enterprises could also be sold to third countries on the international market.
“The primary task for us is to upgrade and rearm our armed forces, but the industry may also take some types of weapons to the market,” he said.