NATO Does Not Directly Participate in Conflict Resolution’


24 Feb 05

Robert Simons Highly Evaluates Armenian Peacekeepers’ Activities
inKosovo and Iraq

Robert Simons, special representative of NATO Secretary General in the
South Caucasus and Central Asia, said in the course of his visit to
Yerevan that Armenia’s participation in the Collective Security Treaty
Organization, as well as the Armenian-Russian close relations have no
negative impact on the level of the relations between NATO and

“We have very good relations with Russia. Besides, we have stated for
many times that NATO doesn’t build its relations with countries based
oncompetition or taking into account this or that organization or a
union,” Robert Simons said during the press conference.

The position of NATO Secretary General’s Special representative in the
South Caucasus and the Central Asia was established in the autumn of
2004. It was emphasized in a separate point of the memorandum adopted
at the NATO Summitin Istanbul that the Alliance will pay special
attention to the regions of the South Caucasus and the Central Asia.

Simons stated during the meeting with Serge Sargsian, RA defense
minister, that NATO doesn’t compete with any neighboring country. In
response, Sargsian said: “I think that it is in the interest of our
country, if the relations between Russia and the US between Russia and
NATO, as well as the relationsbetween Russia and EU are on a higher

Armenia continues to successfully deepen relations with NATO. In 2004
Armenia participated in 47 arrangements of the Alliance, as well as in
5 military exercises. In 2005 RA is going to participate in 50
arrangements and 8 military exercises of NATO.

“Armenia proves that it is possible to have close relations with
Russia and be an active partner of the Alliance, at the same time,”
NATO Secretary General said in the interview to Mediamax on the eve of
his visit to Armenia in November 2004. “Armenia indeed has good
relations with Russia, but that shouldn’t hinder its relations with
NATO,” he said.

RA Defense Ministry’s Information and PR Department informed that
Serge Sargsian said in the course of the meeting with Robert Simons
that the cooperation with NATO is of great importance and is the
integral component for Armenia’s security. “I am glad that NATO also
emphasizes the importance of the relations with Armenia. I want to
emphasize once again that we will move in the direction we took and
will constantly deepen our relations. As for Armenia’s participation
in different programs of NATO, we will participate in them asmuch as
possible. Moreover, if we didn’t have an unsettled conflict, we would
have more opportunities to participate in such programs,” Sargsian

Robert Simons stated at the press conference that “NATO does not
directly participate in conflict resolution and doesn’t discuss the
issue oflocating its peacekeeping forces in the region.” “NATO is
following the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan with great
attention, but it doesn’tmean that we are directly participating in
that process,” Simons said, adding that the OSCE Minsk group will
remain the most convenient format for the settlement of Nagorno
Karabakh conflict.

Simons said that NATO doesn’t discuss the issue of locating its
peacekeeping forces in the region at all. He said that first of all,
the conflict shouldbe settled. Besides, the sides should apply to the
peacekeepers with the request of location themselves.

Simons said that NKR conflict hinders the development of the
region’ countries. “I believe that mutually acceptable agreement
will be achieved. NATO isn’t directly involved in the settlement
process, but we are following all the developments with attention,” he

Simons highly evaluated the participation of the Armenian peacekeepers
in the activities in Iraq and Kosovo. He said that it testifies to
Armenia’s willingness to contribute to the maintenance of the
international security.The diplomat also highly estimated Armenia’s
determination to sign a program of individual partnership with
NATO. He said that NATO will spare no efforts to support the preparing
of that document but Armenia should decide the content and the
deadlines of the document’s signing. Earlier Lieutenant General Artur
Aghabekian, RA deputy defense minister, said that the Program of
IndividualPartnership will be ready in 2005.

In response to the question about the membership of the South Caucasus
states to the NATO, Simons said that “the doors of the alliance are
before of every country,” but today, “Albania, Croatia and Macedonia
are obvious candidates for the membership to NATO.”

By Tatoul Hakobian