Armenia is prepared to maintain its cooperation with NATO, although it has not received an invitation to join the military bloc and has no plans for accession, according to Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan. Kostanyan made these remarks in response to calls from Gunther Fehlinger, an Austrian economist and head of the NGO European Committee for NATO Enlargement, who urged Armenia to join NATO.
Kostanyan clarified that Fehlinger does not represent NATO and only leads a public organization affiliated with the bloc. Fehlinger has also called for other countries such as Austria, Ireland, Georgia, and Azerbaijan to join NATO.
Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Russia and other post-Soviet states. Despite this, Armenia maintains relations with NATO and participates in the bloc’s Partnership for Peace and Defense Education Enhancement programs. Additionally, Armenia contributes to NATO-led operations in Kosovo.
However, Armenia has been embroiled in a long-standing conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region declared independence from Azerbaijan during the final years of the Soviet Union, leading to a war that resulted in thousands of casualties. A truce mediated by the international community was signed in 1994, but sporadic fights over the territory have persisted.
Armenia’s stance on NATO does not seem to be changing as the country emphasizes its commitment to cooperation and partnership with the bloc without pursuing membership. This position allows Armenia to maintain its relationship with NATO while also being a member of the CSTO.
The Armenian government’s decision to prioritize cooperation rather than accession could be influenced by various factors, including its regional dynamics and historical context. Armenia shares borders with Russia, Iran, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, and its geopolitical position in the Caucasus region plays a significant role in its foreign policy choices.
While some Armenian activists and the general public may support NATO membership for strategic and security reasons, the government’s approach aligns with the country’s existing commitments and partnerships. Armenia’s engagement with NATO through programs like Partnership for Peace demonstrates its willingness to collaborate with the bloc while maintaining its autonomy in decision-making.
As Armenia navigates its relations with NATO and regional neighbors, the country will likely continue to balance its interests and obligations, seeking to contribute to regional stability while safeguarding its own security concerns. The ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh adds another layer of complexity to Armenia’s foreign policy decisions.
In conclusion, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister affirmed the country’s willingness to cooperate with NATO but clarified that membership is not on the agenda. Armenia’s existing partnerships and commitments, such as its membership in the CSTO, influence its approach towards NATO. The government’s priority is to maintain cooperation and partnership with the military bloc while addressing its regional security challenges, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.