YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian formed on Tuesday an inter-agency body tasked with coordinating Armenia’s growing ties with the European Union and NATO.
Sarkisian’s office said in a statement that the commission headed by Artur Baghdasarian, secretary of the presidential National Security Council, will oversee the implementation of Armenia’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO. The plan was launched in late 2005 to step up the country’s cooperation with the U.S.-led alliance.
The statement said Baghdasarian’s commission will also deal with another plan of actions stemming from Armenia’s participation in the EU’s European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) that entitles it to privileged partnership with the bloc.
Sarkisian’s decision to set up the ad hoc body was in tune with his September 4 foreign policy speech in which he pledged to “deepen and strengthen” Armenia’s “friendly partnership” with the United States as well as other Western powers and structures. Addressing Armenian ambassadors abroad, he said he will be personally overseeing his government’s implementation of the ENP action plan. Yerevan will also press ahead with hosting a NATO-led military exercise later this month and other “consistently” take other actions envisaged by IPAP, he said.
The pledges came amid increased tensions in the West’s relationship with Russia resulting from the military conflict in Georgia. Analysts believe that the situation in the region will make it harder for Armenia to pursue its “complementary” foreign policy.
Armenia assumed last week the rotating presidency of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance of six former Soviet republics, which Moscow has been trying to use as a counterweight to NATO.
Yerevan has implicitly blamed Tbilisi for the outbreak of war in South Ossetia, but made it clear that it will not join Moscow in recognizing this and another Georgian breakaway region, Abkhazia.