Armenia will continue to contribute troops to the NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo and step up its broader cooperation with NATO, senior officials in Yerevan said on Wednesday.
According to Levon Ayvazaian, head of a defense policy department at the Armenian Defense Ministry, 121 Armenian soldiers are currently deployed in Afghanistan and 35 others in Kosovo.
“Our participation has continued on the same scale this year and we have made a political decision to also continue it in the coming years,” said Ayvazian.
The soldiers serving there are part of the Armenian army’s special peacekeeping brigade that has received considerable assistance from the United States and other NATO member states. In particular, the U.S. has helped to renovate the brigade’s training center near Yerevan. Senior Armenian and U.S. military officials inaugurated the facility on October 31.
The Armenian deployments in Kosovo and Afghanistan have highlighted Armenia’s growing ties with NATO stemming from an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) originally launched in 2006 and repeatedly updated since then.
Armen Yedigarian, a senior Armenian Foreign Ministry official, said the most recent, fifth version of the IPAP was approved by NATO in April. The document lists joint activities planned for 2017-2019, he told reporters.
Yedigarian and Ayvazian met the press at the official launch of an annual “NATO Week” in Armenia. Rosaria Puglisi, deputy head of a NATO liaison office in the South Caucasus, also spoke at the event. She announced that NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller will arrive in Yerevan on Monday for talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and other Armenian leaders.
In Ayvazian’s words, “military-technical cooperation” is also on the agenda of Armenia’s dealings with NATO and its individual member states. “It is not confined to buying weapons and ammunition,” he said. “It also has many other components such as cooperation on technology, joint solutions, ventures and so on.”
The defense official cited the example of a Polish-Armenian joint venture that was set up in 2013 to manufacture protective gear such as army helmets, flak jackets and inflatable tents and decoys for the Armenian military.
“We also have a fairly long experience of setting up and operating joint ventures with Greece,” added Ayvazian. “We are holding negotiations in this direction with various states and I think that we will have better, more visible results over time.”