Military officials from NATO and Armenia reportedly drew up on Tuesday a plan of joint actions for next year highlighting Yerevan’s intention to continue stepping up cooperation with the Western alliance.
The officials representing the Armenian Defense Ministry and NATO’s Allied Command Operations center in Belgium reviewed their deepening ties during two-day “staff negotiations” held in Yerevan. In particular, they looked into the Armenian army’s “educational needs for enhancing interoperability with NATO forces,” according to a ministry statement issued after the talks.
The statement said that they “mapped out the main directions of cooperation in 2015-2016.” They also worked out a “roadmap” for joint activities planned for next year, it said. No details of the plan were immediately made public.
Those activities stem from Armenia’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO that was launched a decade ago and has been repeatedly updated since then. Armenian officials said early this year that a fresh version of the cooperation framework will be agreed upon by the end of 2014.
The IPAP commits Armenia to implementing defense reforms aimed at bringing its armed forces into greater conformity with NATO standards. It also calls for Armenian participation for NATO-led multinational military missions.
The Armenian government is sticking to the IPAP despite the West’s deepening standoff with Russia, Armenia’s main military ally, over the conflict in Ukraine. President Serzh Sarkisian underscored this policy last month when he attended a NATO summit for the first time in more than five years.
Sarkisian’s defense minister, Seyran Ohanian, reaffirmed Yerevan’s commitment to close cooperation with NATO shortly after the summit. He said that it is drawing no objections from Russia. Ohanian said the ties with NATO are helping Armenia to not only “modernize” its armed forces but also act as a bridge between the alliance and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).