BELGIUM (RFE/RL)–The normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey will foster closer cooperation between NATO and Armenia and improve its image in the ex-Soviet republic, an official from the U.S.-led alliance said on Tuesday.
“I think that with the warming of Armenia’s relations with Turkey, the alliance’s [cooperation] opportunities in the country will increase, Zbigniew Rybacki, a NATO liaison officer for the Caucasus, told a news conference in Yerevan.
Rybacki argued that many Armenians still mistrust NATO because of their pro-Russian sentiment and Turkey’s membership in the alliance. “Certainly, the not-so-good perception of the alliance within Armenian society has been affected by the lack of relations between your country and Turkey,” he said. “Turkey is a member of NATO and the Armenian population, having this in mind, perceives the alliance through relations or lack of relations with Turkey.”
“Therefore, I believe that as soon as you establish diplomatic relations and open borders with Turkey, in some time — it’s not going to happen very soon but in some time — the perception of your population of the alliance will be much better than now,” added Rybacki.