YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–NATO’s top governing body reviewed growing cooperation with Armenia during an annual meeting with key members of the Armenian government that was held at the NATO headquarters in Brussels late on Wednesday.
Addressing the North Atlantic Council, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian reportedly reaffirmed their country’s commitment to pursue closer ties with the Western alliance.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, they briefed the body representing the 28 NATO member states on the current status of Armenia’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with the alliance and the resulting defense reforms carried out by Yerevan. A ministry statement issued on Thursday said they also answered “numerous questions” from council members relating to Armenian foreign policy and recent developments in the region.
“On behalf of their states, the ambassadors of NATO member states voiced support for Armenia’s steps aimed at the establishment of peace, stability and security in the South Caucasus,” read the statement. They also expressed their satisfaction with the results of the IPAP, it said.
The cooperation framework launched in 2005 commits the South Caucasus state to implementing defense reforms aimed at bringing its armed forces into greater conformity with NATO standards and practices. The IPAP also envisages greater Armenian participation in NATO-led multinational missions and military exercises. The Armenian military most recently hosted such drills in late 2008.
In addition, Armenia is a member of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, having deployed a 40-strong army detachment near the northern Afghan city of Kunduz earlier this year. Another 70 Armenian soldiers have been serving under NATO command in Kosovo.
Ohanian arrived in Brussels from Berlin where he attended earlier this week a meeting of the defense ministers of 15 nations that make up the German-led ISAF units stationed in northern Afghanistan.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry cited NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero as again thanking Yerevan for the Afghan mission at a separate meeting with Ohanian and Nalbandian held earlier on Wednesday. It said Bisogniero “highly appreciated progress registered in a number of areas of cooperation with Armenia.”
“Ministers Nalbandian and Ohanian reaffirmed Armenia’s readiness to continue the mutually beneficial cooperation with NATO,” added the ministry statement. The NATO headquarters issued on statements on the Brussels meetings.
Armenian leaders have repeatedly made clear that despite their desire to forge closer security links with the West, Armenia has no plans to seek NATO membership and will remain a part of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization in the foreseeable future. The military alliance with Russia has been a key element of the Armenian national security doctrine since independence.