YEREVAN—On June 13, Armenian President Serge Sarkisian received the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai.
Welcoming the guest, the Sarkisian noted that such visits are a good opportunity to discuss the agenda of NATO-Armenia cooperation, as well as exchange ideas on the regional and international developments.
During their meeting, Sarkisian recalled his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, which took place at the NATO headquarters on Feb. 27. Appathurai, for his part, thanked the Armenian President for the reception and expressed gratitude to Armenia on behalf of the organization for its participation in efforts aimed at the establishment of peace and contribution to the international peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Appathurai also stressed that in the recent years Armenia-NATO relations have developed in the climate of confidence and mutual understanding and that he will leave Armenia with a conviction to continue that efficient cooperation.
Upon Appathurai’s request, Sarkisian briefed him on the process of shifting to a new system of governance and the significance of the constitutional amendments as well as on the developments regarding the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict resolution.
A day earlier, on June 12, Appathurai said the issue of increasing the number of troops participating in NATO-led missions will be on the agenda of the Armenian Defense Minister’s upcoming visit to Brussels.
“All NATO allies are concerned by the increasing level of armaments in the region also because it’s increasing the level of hostilities and political tension. Two of the members of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] Minsk Group—France and the U.S.—are NATO allies. We can all see from the activities and statements of the Minsk Group like all NATO allies they are committed to a peaceful resolution. Overall, NATO’s position is to seek a reduction in tension, a reduction in hostilities and a peaceful resolution,” Appathurai said.
“We do follow very closely the security situation in the region, receive regular updates, and there is a higher level of concern among the allies with regard to the situation. As you know over the past year we have seen more military activity, higher level of military rhetoric, casualties and military exchanges,” he added.
During the press conference, Appathurai said that while NATO is not directly engaged in the Karabagh issue, its position is to support the OSCE Minsk Group. “We would support any steps by the two countries or the Minsk Group that would help decrease tensions,” he said, adding that he welcomed the “balanced foreign policy” that Armenia has.
“It causes us no complication that Armenia is in the CSTO or the Eurasian Economic Union. From NATO point of view Armenia is and has been a reliable partner,” Appathuirai said.
“We’ll continue the static cooperation and the practical improvements where it makes sense for both parties,” he added.