By Anna Saghabalian
Bulgaria’s Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov began an official visit to Armenia on Wednesday aimed at exploring possibilities of bilateral military cooperation which he said has been hampered by unspecified “obstacles.”
Svinarov said on his arrival at Yerevan airport that the two countries intend to expand their relationship in a number of areas, including defense. But he made it clear that they have no plans for mutual supplies of weapons and will instead focus on training of military personnel and other “joint activities.”
“There are many obstacles to our direct military-technical cooperation,” he told reporters, apparently referring to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the resulting Western embargo on arms supplies to the conflicting parties. He expressed hope, without elaborating, that those obstacles will be removed next year.
Bulgaria and several other Eastern European states will become members of NATO next year. It will also take over a one-year rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in January.
Svinarov said his country will lend full support to the OSCE Minsk Group, the main international body trying to broker a solution to the Karabakh conflict. “I am confident that this issue will also be actively discussed by at NATO,” he said.
The Armenian military, according to Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, would like to study Bulgaria’s experience with integration into Western security structures. “Our defense ministry is interested in the Bulgarian military’s track record of integration into European structures and its relations with NATO,” he said.