Russia not to partake in NATO wargames in Azerbaijan in september,Se


RIA Novosti, Russia
May 20 2004

YEREVAN, May 20 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will not take part in the
military exercise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation within
the Partnership for Peace programme due to be held in Azerbaijan
in September, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told the press
conference in Yerevan on Thursday.

“We participate in an exercise only when we see practical benefit
for us proceeding from the national interest, otherwise we are not
interested”, he said.

In turn, the Armenian head of the military establishment, Serj
Sargsian, said: “Armenia it ready to participate but only as a
full-fledged member”.

“What is proposed now – the observer status – is unacceptable”,
Sargsian said.

Sergei Ivanov sees no serious problems in Russian-Armenian relations,
which have been developing dynamically in recent time.

“There are not a single big problem existing in our mutual relations”,
he told journalists.

During the two-day visit, Sergei Ivanov is going to discuss with his
Armenian analogue interaction in the military field, regional security
and the situation in some flashpoints.

Russia has no plans for the build-up of the numerical strength of
the 102nd military base in Armenia, the Russian defence minister
said. It is not quantity but quality, the provision of arms, the
military hardware that matter, he said Serj Sargsian said that he
sees it as a rhetoric matter.

“The answer to this question is certainly ‘no'”, said the Armenian
foreign minister. “We have many times said that we view military
contacts with Russia as a component of our national security. This is
why the answer will be plain and clear – there will be no withdrawal
of the Russian base from Armenia”.

As regards the Russian bases in Georgia, there will be no haste with
their pullout from Georgia, the Russian foreign minister said.

He recalled that the relative talks with Georgia have of late slowed
down due to the objective reasons — the governments in both the
countries have changed. “The talks will be continued, and not only
on a timeframe for withdrawal but also on a status for the bases”,
Sergei Ivanov said.

He said that Armenia has bought two military transport planes Il-76
at the domestic Russian prices in line with the mechanism existing in
the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (its members are Belarus,
Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Armenia). “The two Il-76
planes, bought by Armenia from Russia according to the CSTO methods,
have today landed in Armenia”, Sergei Ivanov said.

The Russian defence minister voiced surprise over the information on
the possibility of the joint use by Russia and the United States of
the Gabaliski radar in Azerbaijan.

“However imaginative, I cannot think of it”, Sergei Ivanov joked. He
recalled that the Gabalinski radar is Russia’s military installation
working in the interest of the Russian Federation. The agreement on
its use has recently been concluded with Azerbaijan.

Asked by journalists about his approach to the GUUAM association
(Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova), Sergei Ivanov
said that he “just does not have any”.

“It is, to put it mildly, premature to talk of its military-political
component”, Sergei Ivanov said.