NATO Membership Not an Option, Says Sarkisian

YEREVAN (ArmRadio)–While in Moscow for official meetings aimed at deepening Russian-Armenian ties this week, Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian signaled during an interview that his country had no intention of following other former soviet states by joining NATO, as it would be detrimental to the security of Armenia.

Sarkisian’s statement comes as Armenia hosts a series of NATO oriented events this week, in what has been called "NATO Week in Armenia."

NATO Week, which was being held in Armenia for the first time this year, hosted a series of events to familiarize the Armenian public with the country’s current and future level of cooperation with the Western military alliance.

Sarkisian explained that Armenia intends to develop its relations with NATO within the framework of the Armenia-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan, which sets clear cooperation objectives and priorities for individual non-member states. Through the IPAP, NATO provides focused, country-specific advice on reform objectives, in the political and military spheres.

Armenia gains much military experience through its current relationship with NATO, but Armenia’s membership in the Russian lead Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is more important to Yerevan than membership in the US lead alliance, Sarkisian stressed during an interview with the Russian "Kommersant" daily newspaper.

Although former Soviet states like Georgia and Ukraine are opting to move farther from Russia and closer to the west by joining NATO, it would be detrimental for Armenia’s security if it were to join NATO, Sarkisian noted.

If we are in the CSTO today, and if there are Russian troops and a Russian military base located on our territory, then joining NATO would be viewed as an anti-Russian step, since the military bases of the one would be replaced by those of the other," he said.

According to Sarkisian, being a member of the CSTO is very advantageous for Armenia.

"Today all our armamen’s are either Soviet or Russian. These must be preserved, modernized and increased and the CSTO provides that opportunity," the Armenian president explained. "We have privileged conditions of military-technical cooperation, and it’s profitable for us [to be a CSTO member]."

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