YEREVAN (News.am)—Any country that arms the parties of the Karabakh conflict actually contributes to the continuation of the conflict, said NATO Liaison Officer to the South Caucasus Region, William “Bill” Lahue during a meeting in Yerevan today, as part of an ongoing “NATO Week” organized by the NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the Armenian Defense Ministry.
Lahue recalled that even though NATO is not directly involved in the resolution of the Karabakh conflict, there are organizations that are engaged in that task, namely the OSCE. He said the ongoing conflict certainly has an impact on the whole region, and adversely affects security and economic development.
He noted that although deploying peacekeepers in the Karabakh conflict zone is an interesting concept, it is not a part of NATO’s objectives. Lahue added, however, that this issue can be discussed if Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other interested parties wish to do so.
Lahue attached particular importance to Armenia-NATO relations while speaking to journalists today at the Information Center on NATO in Yerevan, saying that Armenia’s relations with the organization are unique.
“Armenia is the only CSTO member state which is involved in NATO-led international peacekeeping missions. It indicates that NATO respects its partners’ sovereign decisions,” Lahue said.
Lahue stressed that one of the key goals of NATO-Armenia cooperation is to assist in ensuring peace and security not only in the South Caucasus but also globally.
“Armenia makes full use of all the NATO’s tools meant for its partners. Armenian peacekeepers’ participation in NATO-led missions is a vivid example of it,” he said.
Lahue recalled that Armenia’s involvement in NATO’s “Building Integrity” program is one of the key components of Armenia-NATO collaboration.
NATO also proposed that Armenia take part in its Professional Development Program last year, he noted.
As part of NATO Week, the international organization has arranged leadership seminars for civilian specialists in the fields of security and defense, including Armenia’s first cyber-security seminar.
“We are not only going to maintain [what has already been] achieved in Armenia-NATO relations but we are seeking new areas of cooperation. As far as relations between NATO and its partners are concerned, it’s important to remember that it’s the partner states that determine the level of their involvement,” Lahue said.