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Armenia Has 'No Taboo' On Defense Cooperation With Partners, Says Defense Chief

23.02.2024 14:57

Suren Papikyan says Armenia has 'far reaching plans' of cooperation with France.

Armenia's defense chief said Friday that the post-Soviet nation has "no taboo" on defense cooperation with its "partners," in a statement that came amid growing military collaboration with France.

Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan after a meeting with his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu, Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan said Yerevan's cooperation "is not against anyone."

Earlier in the day, Papikyan and Lecornu had signed several agreements military in cooperation.

When asked if Armenia's defense cooperation with France conflicted with its collaboration with Russia and Iran, Papikyan asserted that such relationships were Armenia's "sovereign right." He emphasized that Yerevan had the sole discretion to decide with whom to build these partnerships and at what level.

"I think it is our right to cooperate with France and Iran, and everyone should take note of this. Our French colleagues respect our cooperation with other partners, our Iranian partners respect our cooperation with other partners. I think our Russian partners should do the same. Since Armenia has no taboo on cooperation in the interests of the Republic of Armenia," he emphasized.

Papikyan noted that Armenia and France have "far-reaching plans" for future cooperation in the defense sector.

"Since this year, bilateral military cooperation has been based on clear planning, is developing in more than a dozen directions and has far-reaching plans. The agenda of our cooperation covers almost all areas of activity of the armed forces," he said, emphasizing the advisory support Armenia is receiving on defense reforms and military education.

Papikyan added Armenia is also cooperating with the French military on the modernization of the means of defense and the development of military-technical cooperation.

The minister also noted that he presented to Lecornu with reform plans in the Armenian army, designed to bring the armed forces up to modern standards and "to withstand current challenges."

Armenia has had tense relations with its neighbor Azerbaijan since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

Azerbaijan liberated most of the region during the war in the fall of 2020, which ended with a Russian-brokered peace agreement, opening the door to normalization.

Last September, Baku initiated an "anti-terrorism operation" in Karabakh to establish "constitutional order," after which the remaining separatist forces in the region surrendered. -

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