Armenia’s Defense Minister Suren Papikyan and his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu signed a military cooperations agreement on Monday in Paris, the defense ministry reported. This is Armenia’s first such agreement with a Western nation.
Lecornu said that France will provide Armenia with three GM200 radar systems and Mistral short-range missiles. According to officials, France will also assist in reforms in Armenia’s Armed Forces.
“France and its people are standing by our side, just like during all difficult moments in the history of the Armenian people, and also today with the complex military and political situation around Armenia,” Papikyan said, adding that this gesture “deserves the highest appreciation, for which I am grateful again.”
“Today’s agreement stipulates cooperation in modernization of the defense capabilities of Armenia’s Armed Forces, military education, personnel training, advisory support and a number of other aspects that are a priority for our Armed Forces,” added Papikyan.
The French Defense Ministry said in a statement that the agreement will also allow Armenia to better defend its sovereign borders.
Lecornu previewed the signing of the document in an interview the Le Parisien newspaper on Sunday, saying the document would also allow Armenia to purchase defensive weapons from France.
“Tomorrow we will officially formalize Armenia’s acquisition of a certain types of weapons from French manufacturers, in particular, we will sign an agreement that will allow Armenia to protect its skies,” Lecornu said in the interview. “It is important to provide opportunities to Armenia to defend its peaceful residents and secure its border defense.”
Lecornu clarified to a French Senate commission last week that the weapons that are being considered for sale are only defensive and not offensive and meant to assist Armenia in defending lives and the security of its territory.
During a visit to Armenia earlier this month, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Armenia needed to be able to defend itself weeks after Azerbaijani forces invaded Nagorno-Karabakh despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers.
She said Paris has agreed to deliver military equipment to Armenia.
After visiting displaced Artsakh residents, including burn patients injured in a Stepanakert fuel depot station explosion, the minister pledged military support.
“I would like to publicly state that France has agreed on future contracts with Armenia which will allow the delivery of military equipment to Armenia so that it can ensure its defense. You’ll understand that I can’t go into more detail at the moment,” Colonna said on October 3.
Colonna’s pledge of military support to Armenia has further angered Baku, with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan complaining to European Council President Charles Michel about what he called the “anti-Azerbaijan” posturing by Paris and the EU.