Defense Minister Says Budget Enough to Ensure Combat Readiness

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s defense minister Serzh Sarkisian said Monday the defense spending allocated in next year’s government budget was quite sufficient to keep an effective army. Speaking to journalists after parliament hearings on the 2007 budget, the minister said Armenia’s military budget for next year would increase by 35 percent. He said from now on Armenia’s military budget would make 3.65 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. "Therefore the stronger the Armenian economy, the higher the defense spending will be,’ he said. The minister said nearly half of the defense budget would be used to pay army officers. Next year the average wage of a military officer will increase to 165,000 drams (approximately $450). The minister also commented on Azerbaijan’s plans to increase its military spending for the next year to almost $1 billion, saying a quality was better than quantity. The draft 2007 budget envisioned 100.4 billion drams (about $300 million) in defense spending.

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