YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian stressed the importance of continued defense reforms on Wednesday as Armenia marked the 17th anniversary of the official creation of its armed forces.
Ohanian said the reforms are essential for enhancing the combat-readiness of the Armenian army. “In terms of quantitative, qualitative and structural issues, we have reached a point where we need to embark on certain reforms in order to ensure a further development and bring the army into conformity with modern standards,” he told journalists at the Yerablur military cemetery in Yerevan.
The Armenian military has already undergone some structural changes in accordance with its Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO. Those are supposed to lead to greater civilian control over the military and a so-called “civilianization” of the Defense Ministry.
The Armenian government pushed through parliament recently a law that allows the ministry to hire civilian personnel. The government also approved the new statutes and structures of the ministry and the army’s General Staff late last month.
President Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday again spoke of the impending completion of “the current phase of reform of the armed forces” in a congratulatory statement on Armenian Army Day, a public holiday. “Our objective is to have a modern, combat-ready and continuously developing army anchored in advanced experience and victorious traditions of the Armenian military,” he said.
Neither Sarkisian nor Ohanian specified what further defense reforms will be implemented in Armenia. They instead praised the army as a reliable guarantor of the country’s independence.
“The Armenian army is a source of our national pride and a factor driving our foes into restraint and vigilance,” said the president.