By Hrach Melkumian
Today Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and Russian ambassador in Armenia Anatolii Dryukov exchanged the protocols on the ratification of the bilateral treaty regulating the Russian military bases in Armenia. The treaty, which regulates the legal rights of Russian soldiers stationed in Armenia, takes effect from today. The Soviet army unit stationed in Armenia did not leave the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union and stayed there without signing legally binding agreements. A military treaty, which legally allows Russia to deploy its military bases in Armenia for 25 years, was signed in 1995 and was ratified by both countries' parliaments only two years later.
There are also dozens of other agreements regulating the status and duration of the stay of Russian soldiers in Armenia. Today's agreement, which covers the legal issues, was signed in 1997 and ratified by the Armenian Parliament in 1998. The agreement outlining the legal framework for the Russian military bases in Armenia was stalled in the Russian Duma and was approved only in January of this year.
Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian praised the agreement, saying that Russian-Armenian military cooperation is one of the guarantors of the Armenia's security. According to Oskanian, the Russian military base in Armenia is an important component of the country's security.
Russian ambassador Anatolii Dryukov also praised the Russian-Armenian military cooperation, indicating that his country has no intention of reviewing the terms and duration of the stay of Russian military bases. Dryukov said that from now on the Russian military will have sufficient legal ground for its activity in Armenia. The agreement also outlines the legal rights and jurisdiction of the Armenian and Russian law-enforcement authorities in pursuing criminal charges against Russian soldiers who commit crimes in Armenia. In 1999, two Russian border guards opened fire in the Giumri market, killing and wounding several people.