YEREVAN, March 20. / ARKA /. UK ambassador to Armenia, Katherine Leach, said she was impressed by the scale of Armenia's cooperation with NATO, despite its membership in the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), when speaking at a NATO-sponsored international conference in Yerevan on NATO Partnership in the South Caucasus.
"Armenia’s strategic partnership with Russia and the CSTO is understandable. But I am impressed by Armenia’s desire to create a professional peacekeeping brigade. It now has more than 100 soldiers in Afghanistan. It is revising also its defense strategy and organizes professional training for sergeants,” she said.
Armenia’s National Security Council secretary Arthur Baghdasaryan said effective cooperation with NATO is important to Armenia.
"Armenia is a key member of the CSTO, but continues also our partnership with NATO with a clearly designed program and agenda. We find that there is a complementarity resource, which we must use to move forward,” he said.
He said an Armenian inter-agency commission coordinating cooperation between Armenia and NATO is already six years old.
Baghdasaryan said Armenia and NATO cooperate in the fields of democracy, rule of law and protection of human rights, institutional reforms in the defense sector as part of Individual Partnership Program. They also cooperate in emergency situations, counter-terrorism and corruption. From 2004 Armenian peacekeepers have been participating in NATO peacekeeping missions.
"Armenia is a country that promotes regional and international stability and security. We attach importance to our participation in peacekeeping missions,” he added.
The two-day conference organized by the Centre for Strategic Analysis Spectrum has brought to Yerevan political analysts and experts from Azerbaijan , Georgia, USA, Russia , Turkey, Iran , UK, Spain and Belgium, to discuss regional security issues, Euro-Atlantic prospects, European and Eurasian partnership and cooperation and development trends in each of the regional countries. -0-