September 15, 2010

Robert Simmons met with Armenian journalist in Information Centre on NATO


NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, Ambassador Robert Simmons stated in Yerevan today that prolongation of the term of Russian military base’s deployment will have no effect on the relations of the Alliance with Armenia.

Mediamax reports that, speaking at a news conference in Information Center on NATO in Yerevan, Robert Simmons stated that he had held meetings with the President, Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs of Armenia, and “the leadership of Armenia clearly stated its intention to continue developing relations with NATO”.

Robert Simmons urged not to take Armenia’s relations with NATO and with Russia as a zero-sum game.

“We know that Armenia is a member of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and has military-political relations with Russia. One of the components of Armenia’s membership in CSTO is the presence of a Russian military base in Armenia and NATO has never criticized this fact”, Robert Simmons stressed.

He informed that as the President of a country, which participates in ISAF operation in Afghanistan, Armenian President received an invitation to participate in November NATO Summit in Lisbon, where the new Strategy Concept of the Alliance will be approved.

Touching upon the process of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, he informed that NATO is concerned with the recent incidents on the contact line. Robert Simmons reminded that NATO is not involved in negotiations and supports the efforts of OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs, directed at solving the problem on the basis of three principles: territorial integrity, right for self-determination and non-use of force.

Answering the question of NATO’s attitude towards the draft resolution, presented to UN General Assembly by Azerbaijan and recalled as a result, Robert Simmons reminded that an analogous resolution had also been presented by Azerbaijan before, however OSCE Minsk Group Co-chair countries voted it down.

Commenting on Mediamax’s request on the recent ban of Azerbaijan for planes, flying Armenian peacekeepers back from Afghanistan, to use its air space, Robert Simmons stated that NATO tries to come to an agreement with all countries, the air space or overland territory of which are of importance for the operation in Afghanistan.

“Especially if we talk about countries, which contribute forces to the operation in Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan is such a country”, NATO Secretary General Special Representative stated.

“We understand that each country has a sovereign right to make decisions concerning use of its air space, however we will continue urging to cooperation”, Robert Simmons stated.