YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—After signing an agreement, which would increase Russia’s military presence in Armenia until 2044, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is on an official visit to Armenia, said that “Russia treats its commitments as an ally very seriously.”
The comment came in response to an inquiry at a press conference about Russia’s reaction to a possible events that would threaten the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh given Azerbaijan’s continued threats of military action.
“The task of the Russian Federation as a major state situated in the region, the most powerful state economically and militarily, is to maintain peace and order. But we also have our allied commitments that we have with members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Republic of Armenia is a member of this organization… Russia treats its commitments as an ally very seriously,” said Medvedev.
The military cooperation agreement was part of a slew of agreements signed between Russia and Armenia after meetings between Medvedev and President Serzh Sarkisian on Firday.
The military deal, which upgrades a 1995 treaty allowing Russian forces to be stationed in Gyumri, extends the Russian military presence from the initial 25 years to 49 years, ending in 2044.
The protocol was signed Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov, with Medvedev and Sarkisian serving as witnesses.n the presence of the two countries’ leaders signatures to the document were put by
It also expands the Russian mission from protecting only the interests of the Russian Federation, to also ensuring the security of the Republic of Armenia and commits Moscow to supplying Armenia with modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware, reported RFE/RL.
Medvedev told reporters at a joint press conference that military base in Armenia would maintain “peace and security in the entire South Caucasus,” stressing that peace in the region was high priority for Russia.
At the news conference Sarkisian praised the deal, which he said would expand the sphere of Russia’s “geographic and strategic” responsibilities, meaning that the base will not only be responsible for protecting the perimeter of the former Soviet Union border, i.e. with Iran and Turkey, but also beyond them, according to RFE/RL.
“The Russian side has made a commitment to ensure the military security of the Republic of Armenia and to cooperate in equipping our armed forces with advanced weaponry,” Sarkisian told the news conference, while stressing Armenia’s continued commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict “without application of force or threat of force.”
Sarkisian also thanked Medvedev for his mediatory efforts as well as for “understanding the meaning of the balance of forces in the region as an important factor of not allowing provocations and preventing militaristic ambitions,” reported RFE/RL.
Medvedev, for his part, said he was ready to continue his mediatory efforts and work with both Azerbaijan and Armenia to help find a political solution “based on mutually acceptable agreements both within the general work of the OSCE Minsk Group and in bilateral contacts with Armenia and Azerbaijan,” according to RFE/RL.
The two leaders then went to Gyumri to inaugurate Hill of Honor, the resting place of Russian officers killed during Russia-Turkish wars of the 19th century.
The Armenian and Russian leaders laid a wreath at the memorial, which is a sculpture of a soldier mourning for his killed comrades-in-arms and an eagle over the soldier’s head with the Turkish flag in its talons.
“We will use the potential of these structures to strengthen peace and stability across the entire territory of the Caucasus,” Medvedev said at the opening ceremony of the Hill of Honor memorial in Gyumri.
“This is essential for all of the countries in the region. It is essential for Russia,” he added.
Sarkisian said Yerevan views friendly ties between Russia and Armenia as a key component in maintaining stability in the Caucasus.
“This enables us to respond adequately to many of the complex challenges of the modern world. It is with this in mind that we signed a protocol on the extension of the Russian military base,” added Sarkisian.
Medvedev accompanied by his wife, Svetlana Medvedeva, arrived in Yerevan on Thursday on the state visit and were greeted at Zvartnots airport by President Sarkisian and his wife, Rita.
The first stop for Medvedev was Dzidzernagapert, where he laid a wreath at the monument to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. He also visited the adjacent Memory Part, where he watered a tree he planted during his 2008 visit. Medvedev was accompanied by Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian.
Accompanying Medvedev to Armenia are Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov, Transport Minister Igor Levitin, Russia’s Ambassador to Armenia Vyacheslav Kovalenko and other officials.
President Sarkisian and the First Lady hosted a state dinner honoring Medvedev at the Presidential Palace on Thursday evening.
Following the dinner, the presidents took a stroll at Republic Square, around the Singing Fountains which in honor of Medvedev’s visit were streaming Russian classical music. At Republic Square, the two Presidents were greeted by the public and later sat down at a local café.