YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—Armenia’s membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance, and in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a Russian-led economic bloc, is no obstacle for further development of relations with NATO, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, told reporters in Yerevan.
“We respect Armenia’s balanced foreign policy and the fact that Armenia is a member of CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union in no way holds us back from practical cooperation,” Appathurai said.
Before the press conference, the NATO official held meetings with Armenia’s President, Foreign Minister, and Defense Minister, as well as with members of the National Assembly.
“I conveyed NATO’s thanks for the contributions that Armenian forces are making in Afghanistan, in Kosovo, and at other UN missions. Armenia was the first country in the South Caucasus to join the new mission in Afghanistan. It’s another sign of Armenia’s reliable contributions to international peace and stability,” Appathurai said.
As for regional security issues, Appathurai said, “Of course, NATO is not involved in the Karabakh conflict resolution process, but we look forward to a peaceful and diplomatic resolution as soon as possible.”
He said the recent incidents at the conflict zone are worrying. “We fully support the Minsk Group and their efforts,” Appathurai said.
Speaking about the killing of a family of six in Gyumri by a Russian military serviceman, the NATO representative said, “First, this is a terrible human tragedy. Secondly, we have full confidence that the authorities here will find the appropriate solution to this difficult situation.”
In Appathurai’s meeting with Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, the two parties emphasized the need to maintain the development of relations, with its main goals being defense reforms and military education and training.