Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and top executives of several Italian defense firms have reached tentative agreements on a joint manufacturing of military equipment, Armenia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday.
According to a statement released by the ministry, Ohanian toured the offices of those firms during a visit to Italy late last week. “Given the mutual interest in developing cooperation in the area of defense industry, understandings were reached on the implementation of a number of joint projects,” it said.
According to the statement, it was also agreed that the two sides will exchange visits of “specialized groups” that will visit each other’s defense enterprises and then submit “proposals regarding production, modernization and maintenance of weapons and military hardware.”
No other details of the talks were reported. Nor did the Defense Ministry name the Italian companies visited by Ohanian.
Still, one of the photographs of the talks released by it features a banner displaying the name and logo of Selex ES, an Italian-British company specializing in the production of hi-tech electronic equipment for defense systems. Those include radars, radios, fire control systems and night vision devices.
Selex also manufactures small but sophisticated unmanned aircraft. One of the publicized photographs showed Ohanian, who flew to Rome together with President Serzh Sarkisian, familiarizing himself with such drones.
The deals explored by the Armenian defense chief would stem from an agreement on bilateral military cooperation that was signed in Yerevan in 2012 by Ohanian and then Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola. The deal committed Armenia and Italy to coordinating defense policies, training military personnel, jointly participating in multinational peacekeeping missions and forging links between their defense industries. Ohanian emphasized the latter component of the accord at the time.
Armenian-Italian military cooperation deepened in November when Armenia sent 32 soldiers to Lebanon to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission led by the Italian military. Sarkisian and Ohanian had a video conference with them at the end of their talks with Italy’s current Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti in Rome on Thursday.
“I am proud of the fact that the Italian military … is content with your service,” the Armenian president told the troops.
Meeting with Pinotti, Sarkisian described the Armenian deployment in Lebanon as a “successful start of Armenian-Italian cooperation in this area.” He also thanked Italy for training Armenian military personnel at its military academies.
Incidentally, Ohanian proceeded to Lebanon from Rome and met there on Saturday with an Italian army general leading the UN mission. He also visited the Armenian contingent deployed near the country’s borders with Syria and Israel.