Armenian Journalists Meet with NATO Representatives

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–NATO Spokesman Jamie Shea told Armenian journalists who were visiting Brussels on April 4-8 that NATO Secretary General Javier Solana is planning to visit the Transcaucasus in September. According to him–such visits demonstrate NATO’s interest toward Armenia and other countries of the region.

Speaking of the Karabakh problem–Shea noted that Nagorno-Karabakh is a key to the region. He said that the West was greatly interested in finding the solution to that problem. According to him–the fact that the new president of Armenia is familiar with the issue is hope inspiring. Shea stressed that the resolution of the Karabakh problem must take into consideration the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan–Nagorno-Karabakh’s aspirations to maintain links with Armenia–and the Karabakh leadership’s standpoint.

A NATO official involved with defense issues reported that NATO is currently revising its 1991 program and the process is likely to be over in 1999.

Due to changes that took place in Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s–NATO has introduced changes in its policy and structures. In 1991–a new strategic program was adopted to reflect the changes in the sphere of European security. The concept highlighted the necessity of adjusting NATO forces to new conditions.

According to the same source–currently there are "powder kegs" on the continent and they cannot envelope the territory of any of the 16 NATO-member countries–since one of NATO’s major tasks is the prevention of conflicts outside the territories of NATO-member countries.

Currently–NATO is implementing 12 programs in Armenia within the framework of Partnership for Peace–including military training–foreign language studies–defense policy strategy–emergency training.

A representative of the Greek delegation in NATO described Armenia’s cooperation with this organization as "modest and restrained." Even though NATO values strengthening cooperation with Russia–NATO representatives hinted in Brussels that the reason for modest and restrained involvement stemmed from Armenia’s military cooperation with Russia.

Currently–NATO highly encourages the implementation of PFP which involves 27 countries of East and Central Europe and post-Soviet countries–including Armenia. PFP is aimed at extending political and military cooperation in Europe–raising stability–achieving transparency of processes of military planning and formation of defense budgets. PFP also provides for cooperation with NATO in search and rescue missions–humanitarian and other actions.

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