YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The National Assembly began discussions Monday on the ratification of an agreement which would allow the opening of a Russian military base in Armenia which was signed on March 16–1995 in Moscow.
The Russian State Duma ratified the agreement earlier this month.
Under the agreement–beside defending interests of the Russian Federation–the Russian military base pledges to ensure security for Armenia along the entire perimeter of the Armenia-Turkey and Armenia-Iran borders.
The military formations of the base will be operated on the basis of the agreement on collective security dated May 15–1992 and the agreement on friendship–cooperation and mutual assistance between Armenia and the Russian Federation signed on December 29–1991. The agreement will last 25 years and may be extended during the next five years if the parties involved do not want to cancel the agreement. The major part of financing is provided by Russia–while 30 percent of the paymen’s for utilities and electricity is covered by Armenia.
The Armenian Finance Ministry is earmarking a total of $770 thousand from their budget on financing arrangemen’s envisaged under agreemen’s on the Russian military base. According to the Armenian Justice Ministry’s notice–some of the document paragraphs contradict with the Criminal and Civil Codes of Armenia–particularly–the damage compensation clause.
On Monday–11 of the 18 registered parliament members gave a speech on the agreement on the National Assembly platform.
Those opposing the ratification pointed out to a number of facts–including the quota violation concerning military equipment. It was also noted that a portion of the military equipment given to Armenia would have to be returned to the Russian military base.
As the debates continued–it became clear that the majority of Parliament Members were simply unfamiliar with the text of the agreement. Some of them feared that the establishment of the Russian military base would automatically shift the Russian border to the territory of Armenia.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Ara Sahakian–noted that Armenia-Russia relations are moving to a new level. Sahakian said–"We try to maintain balanced relations–but we have a special relationship with Russia. The fact that the Russian base is located in Armenia is within the guidelines of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE)," Sahakian said.
Communist Party leader Sergey Badalian–stressed that the ratification of the agreement will define Armenia as an independent state.
He called on parliament members to vote for the ratification–saying that there might never be another opportunity. "With this we also pave the way for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict," Badalian said.
The agreement was ratified by the National Assembly with a vote of 118 to 4–with seven absentees.