By Hrach Melkumian
Armenia and Russia agreed Wednesday on their joint annual financing of Russian border guard troops stationed in Armenia. Their budget for this year worth over $6.2 million was signed by Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian and Russia’s visiting border guards commander, Colonel-General Konstantin Totsky.
Photo: Totsky, left, at a news conference with National Security Minister Karlos Petrosian
Armenia will continue to foot 57 percent of the 2002 bill. The rest of the money will be allocated by the Russian government.
The Russian border guards are deployed along Armenia’s border with Iran and Turkey -- a fact reflecting close military and security ties between Yerevan and Moscow. The two states have signed several agreements envisaging their continued long-term presence on Armenian territory.
Totsky, who arrived in Yerevan late on Tuesday, praised the Armenian government for meeting its financial obligations in full and on time last year during a meeting with Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
“I think that we have started to cooperate more closely,” Armenian Minister of National Security Karlos Petrosian said at a news conference with the Russian general.
Totsky told reporters that Moscow plans to keep unchanged the number of its border guards stationed in Armenia. “The Federal Border Guard Service development plan ending in 2006 provides for no serious changes in the composition of the border guard group in Armenia. The situation on the border is under control,” the head of Russia's Federal Border Guard Service said.
Later in the day Totsky met with Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and traveled to the northern city of Gyumri near the Turkish border to inspect nearby Russian posts.