Armenian Military Opens First Think-Tank Named After General Dro

Armenia's Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian performs the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Dro Strategic Center as ARF Bureau chairman Hrant Markarian (right) looks on

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s Defense Ministry Thursday inaugurated a special think-tank that will advise it on defense and national security. A new two-story building of the National Institute of Strategic Studies was opened in the presence of Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and other senior officials. "This comfortable building will help the institute staff to become more closely involved in army-building," Sarkisian said during the ceremony. "I wish it the best of luck." The Armenian military announced plans to set up the center in May 2004 after raising about $400,000 in donations from US citizens of Armenian descent. The bulk of the sum spent on the building’s construction was contributed Armenian-American descendants of General Dro (Drastamat Ganayan), one of the top military commanders of an independent Armenian republic that existed from 1918-1920. The institute director, Major-General Hayk Kotanjian, said he plans to have about 60 military and civilian employees and has already formed his core expert staff. According to Sarkisian, the latter are involved in the ongoing drafting of Armenia’s national security doctrine. Among leaders in attendance at the opening were Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau Chairman Hrant Markarian and Bureau member and deputy Parliament Speaker Vahan Hovanessian.

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