NATO Head Praises Armenia Ties Promotes OSCE for Karabagh Resolution

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer welcomed on Friday Armenia’s growing cooperation with the Western alliance–during a brief visit to Yerevan that wrapped up his tour of the three South Caucasus states.

"I think that the relationship between Armenia and NATO is developing very well indeed," de Hoop Scheffer told a news conference after talks with President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.

"Armenia has taken an important decision to develop the so-called Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO," he said–referring to a cooperation framework that will raise Yerevan’s participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program to a higher level.

Meeting with Scheffer–Kocharian reaffirmed his government’s intention to forge closer links with NATO while maintaining its military alliance with Russia. "We want to have more active participation in a number of programs," he said in apparent reference to the IPAP.

Also on the agenda of the NATO chief’s talks was the unresolved Mountainous Karabagh conflict. Scheffer again ruled out a NATO mediation of the Armenian-Azeri dispute.

"NATO has no intention and ambition to play an active role in finding a solution to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict," he said. "That’s up to the [OSCE] Minsk Group co-chairs."

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