Baku bound Armenian Officers Arrive

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–In their second attempt to participate in a NATO conference Armenian officers Murad Isakhanian and Aram Hovhannissian arrived in Baku–on Monday to take part in a June 22 NATO conference within its Partnership for Peace (PfP) program.

Armenian officers were not able to attend the first NATO planning conference in Baku last January after Azerbaijan blocked their arrival.

Defense Ministry spokesman Seyran Shahsuvarian said the two army officers boarded a Baku-bound plane in Tbilisi after being formally allowed to enter the country by the Azerbaijani embassy in Georgia’s capital. The Armenian mission in Tbilisi confirmed that they were issued a special "written permission" on June 11–to attend the conference.

Armenia has repeatedly stated its intention to take part in the exercise and–under the PfP rules–does not need Azerbaijan’s consent for doing that.

"I am ready to go there even if they kill me," said Colonel Murad Isakhanian–one of the two Armenian officers attending the NATO seminar shortly before flying to Baku. "I am a military officer and must obey orders," he added.

According to Shahsuvarian–responsibility for ensuring their security primarily lies with NATO.

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