Greek Army Chief Begins Armenia Visit

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The chief of staff of Greece’s armed forces–General Manousos Paraioudakis–arrived in Armenia today on Monday on a four-day official visit which officials say will focus on ways of deepening military ties between the two countries. "We have many issues of common interest in the military sphere," he said on his arrival.

The Armenian Defense Ministry said Paraioudakis will discuss "the possibility of expanding Armenian-Greek military cooperation" and the "military-political situation in the region" during talks with President Robert Kocharian and other senior officials in Yerevan. "Participants of the meetings will also examine the capacities of Armenia’s military-industrial complex and prospects for bilateral cooperation in that area," said a ministry statement. It added that the two parties will also discuss Armenia’s participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. According to the chief of staff of the Armenian army–General Mikael Harutiunian–Armenia has taken part in more than 30 "undertakings" within the PfP framework this year.

Harutiunian told reporters that Yerevan expects Greek assistance in the formation of a special army battalion that would be used in international peace-keeping operations. "We have started creating such a battalion and we are going to negotiate with Greece on that," he said.

Bilateral military cooperation is a major component of the close relationship between the two countries that share among other things strained relations with Turkey–their common neighbor. Dozens of Armenian officers have received training in Greek military academies in the past several years. Some 30 Armenian cadets are currently studying in Greece and ten others are due to join them this year.

Paraioudakis will underscore his country’s continued interest in the training of the Armenian military personnel on Thursday by opening a Greek language center in Yerevan’s biggest military college. He said knowledge of the Greek language will facilitate the future training of Armenian cadets in his country. The Greek army chief will also donate a batch of medical equipment and medicines to the Armenian military.

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