Top Army Officer Says Russian-Armenian Relations Unabated


May 16 2006

YEREVAN, MAY 16, ARMENPRESS. A top Armenian army officer downplayed
today the significance of a chain of swift political developments
in Armenia resulting in resignation of parliament chairman Arthur
Baghdasarian and the withdrawal of his Orinats Yerkir party from the
ruling coalition for Russian-Armenian relations, saying they remain
as solid as they used to be.

“Linking political developments in Armenia with Armenian-Russian
relationships is wrong,” Mikael Harutunian, chief of staff of Armenian
armed forces said today in the Russian embassy after being awarded
a Russian medal.

Mikael Harutunian recalled that both Armenian president and its
defense minister have many a time declared that Armenia and Russia
are strategic partners, however he added, “We likewise want to build
good relations with other countries, with Europe and NATO, but we also
say that Armenia’s accession with NATO is not on our agenda. Armenia
is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
and cannot be simultaneously in NATO,” he said. Harutunian described
Armenia’s relations with NATO as normal, which he said are proceeding
in line with Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP).

Apart from Harutunian, another top army officer, Gurgen Dalibaltayan,
Armenian chief prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepian, a businessman Mikhail
Baghdasarov and some others were awarded Russian medals. Defense
minister Serzh Sarkisian was also to be awarded, but he did not attend
the ceremony because of heavy schedule.

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