Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian reaffirmed on Wednesday Armenia’s stated commitment to continue deepening ties with NATO even after its forthcoming accession to a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states.
“Our relations with NATO are continuous,” Ohanian said after talks with his visiting Lithuanian counterpart, Juozas Olekas. “We remain committed to cooperation in the agreed areas. We will take those measures in full.”
Speaking at a joint news conference, Olekas said Lithuania, which joined NATO a decade ago, strongly supports growing cooperation between the U.S.-led alliance and Armenia. He said it should not be affected by NATO’s recent decision to freeze cooperation with Russia because of the Russian “aggression” against Ukraine.
NATO’s ties with Yerevan have been developing in accordance with an Individual Partnership Action Plan repeatedly updated in recent years. The cooperation framework envisages, among other things, Armenia’s participation in NATO-led multinational missions and sweeping reforms of its armed forces.
Ohanian’s first deputy, Davit Tonoyan, briefed members NATO’s Political and Partnership Committee on those reforms at a meeting in Brussels held on April 14. The Armenian Defense Ministry said the NATO officials praised progress made by Yerevan in boosting the civilian oversight over the Armenian army.
As part of those reforms, the Armenian military is steadily increasing the number of its non-commissioned officers serving on a contractual basis. Military instructors from the United States and Britain have trained dozens of such servicemen.