President Serzh Sarkisian reaffirmed his desire to continue deepening Armenia’s ties with NATO as he met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and addressed the alliance’s top decision-making body in Brussels on Tuesday.
The talks centered on Yerevan’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO and its participation in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
“Armenia is actively cooperating with NATO in all areas of our partnership,” Sarkisian said after the meeting with Rasmussen. He pointed out that the IPAP was again modified last November, presumably with the aim of stepping up bilateral cooperation.
“I would like to reaffirm Armenia’s readiness to continue the mutually beneficial cooperation with NATO,” Sarkisian told journalists.
“Our alliance attaches great importance to our partnership with Armenia and we are grateful for Armenia’s contribution to our ISAF mission in Afghanistan,” Rasmussen said for his part. “NATO and Armenia share many political priorities and security interests. We have built up our cooperation and dialogue over many years.”
“I expect our discussions today to confirm our interest to take forward and deepen our partnership,” Rasmussen said.
The two men spoke before attending a session of NATO’s governing North Atlantic Council at the alliance headquarters in Brussels. Rasmussen said the meeting will discuss, among other things, preparations for NATO’s upcoming summit in Chicago that should decide the future of the Western-led mission in Afghanistan. “As an ISAF contributor, Armenia will participate closely in the decision-shaping process,” he said.
Yerevan almost tripled the Armenian participation in the ISAF when it sent an additional 81 soldiers to Afghanistan in June last year. In a related development, the Armenian military plans to hold joint military exercises with U.S. forces next month.
“We realize that modern [security] threats and challenges can be overcome only with collective efforts,” Sarkisian said before addressing the North Atlantic Council. “For that purpose we tripled the size of the Armenian military contingent participating in the ISAF last summer.”
A statement issued by Sarkisian’s press office later in the day said the Armenian leader delivered an extensive speech at the council meeting which touched upon Armenia-NATO relations, “challenges facing Armenia” and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “President Sarkisian answered questions from participants and expressed gratitude for their words of appreciation and encouragement,” it said.