NATO does not view itself as mediator in Karabakh settlement

Pan Armenian News

R. SIMONS: NATO DOES NOT VIEW ITSELF AS MEDIATOR IN KARABAKH SETTLEMENT

23.06.2005 02:47

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ If the Government of Armenia `does not wish the presence
of Russian military bases in its territory, the NATO will assist Yerevan in
the matter,’ stated the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for
the Caucasus and Central Asia, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for
Political Affairs and Security Robert Simmons. In the course of a meeting
with Armenian, Georgian and Azeri journalists and experts in Brussels,
Simons `assessed as very positive the latest Russian-Georgian talks at which
Moscow expressed readiness to abide by commitments assumed at the OSCE
Istanbul Summit in 1999 and withdraw its military bases from Georgia.’
Brussels hails the withdrawal of Russian military from the territory of
Georgia. `Meanwhile, Russia still retains its military base in Armenia,
moreover it transfers part of materiel from Georgian military bases to
Armenia,’ Simons says `this does not run counter to the Conventional Armed
Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty), however on the other hand the transfer
of arms from Georgia to Armenia is undesirable, as if Armenia does not wish
the presence of Russian military bases in its territory, certain
difficulties may appear.’ At that Simmons does not consider the presence of
Russian military bases hampers further intensification of Armenia-NATO
relations. `It is not a problem to the NATO, especially as Armenia itself
agrees with Russian military presence in its territory. The NATO does not
build relations with partner countries based on competition and does not
consider Russia its competitor in the South Caucasus,’ he added. In his
statement titled Road to NATO Membership Simmons noted that Georgia has left
Armenia and Azerbaijan far behind in intensification of relations with the
NATO.’ In his words, Georgia is the only South Caucasian country that has
expressed desire to become a NATO member. On the other hand, in his words,
expecting Georgia to become a NATO member in the near future is not real.
Touching upon the Karabakh settlement, Simmons remarked NATO does not view
itself as a mediator and `not wishing to duplicate the OSCE Minsk Group,
fully supports the OSCE.’ In his words, if the parties suggest the NATO a
larger role in Karabakh settlement, `we will discuss it.’ In Simmons’ words,
the Alliance posture is impartial and promotes peaceful settlement, reported
Regnum news agency.

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