YEREVAN (Mediamax) — NATO desk officer for the South Caucuses Steffen Elgersma stated on March 3 that Armenia’s contribution to international security has been very impressive.
Elgersma spoke about it in Yerevan during a discussion titled “Armenia-NATO Relations: Prospects and Challenges ahead of the NATO Warsaw Summit.”
“We appreciate Armenia’s long-term participation in the NATO-led international peacekeeping operations and commitment for continuation. Despite the security challenges of this region, Armenia continues to contribute to international security, and this is very impressive,” he said.
The NATO desk officer noted that they are satisfied with relationship history that they have had with Armenia for more than 20 years and appreciate the democratization in armed forces and steps taken towards enhancing the role of women in the defense sector.
Talking about the future of relations between NATO and partner countries, including Armenia, Elgersma stated that NATO will continue to be faithful to two important principles in this perspective.
“Firstly, NATO respects the choice of Armenia and all its other partners in the integration and membership in various formats. We have repeatedly stated that Armenia’s membership to CSTO is fully compatible with NATO-Armenia cooperation and Individual Partnership Action Plan’s objectives.
Secondly, NATO respects the ambitions of its partners in the region. Georgia, for example, wants to join NATO. We are developing relations with Azerbaijan too, but at the same time want to develop closer relations with Armenia and conduct closer work in reforms of defense, cyber security and other areas,” said Elgersma.
He highlighted that NATO expects more creative ideas from Armenia in order to deepen relations.
Elgersma noticed that there have been many changes in global security, and that new challenges emerged after 2014. According to him, these changes will be reflected in the relationship between NATO and its partners in the South Caucasus.
Talking about the NATO Summit in Warsaw this July, the NATO desk officer stated that the challenges of the South and East will be in the agenda.
Elgersma stressed the regression of relations between NATO and Russia as one of the challenges of East.
“We are concerned by Russia’s lack of respect for the sovereignty of neighbors. In NATO we often think that this may lead us to the Cold War. We closely follow this trend and strengthen the collective defense of the member countries, especially the Eastern Front of the Alliance,” said Elgersma.
He added that NATO will continue to keep the doors open for dialogue with Russia.
Talking about the situation in the Middle East, Elgersma admitted that NATO has no “ready recipes” for overcoming the threats emanating from the region.
“We understand that the crisis in Syria is reflected on Armenia as well, as there is an Armenian community in that country. We also understand what Turkish-Russian relations tension means to Armenia,” said Elgersma.