It is indeed a great pleasure to welcome President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia at the NATO Headquarters. Our Alliance attaches great importance to our partnership with Armenia. And we are grateful for Armenia’s contribution to our ISAF mission in Afghanistan.
NATO and Armenia share many political priorities and security interests. And we have built up our cooperation and dialogue over many years. Our relationship contributes to regional security and Euro-Atlantic security. And we want to take it forward in that way.
Today, President Sargsyan will join us in the North Atlantic Council, and discuss our preparations for our Chicago summit. At the meeting in Chicago, we will review the progress of transition in Afghanistan and take decisions on our commitment beyond 2014, once the Afghan forces have full security responsibility throughout the country. As an ISAF contributor, Armenia will participate closely in the decision-shaping process.
Let me stress that the South Caucasus region is important for our Alliance, and Armenia is an important partner for NATO. I am pleased with the dialogue and cooperation that we have built and I expect our discussions today to confirm our interest to take forward and deepen our partnership.
SERZH SARSYAN (President of the Republic of Armenia): Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. I'm glad to be again at the headquarters of the NATO and to meet the Secretary General. Such periodic meetings provide a good opportunity to exchange views on all aspects of Armenian-NATO cooperation and discuss issues related to regional problems and challenges.
Armenia has engaged in an active cooperation with the NATO in all areas of partnership. We have an efficient process of reforming defence, security and disaster response, which are an important part of a large scale domestic reform in Armenia.
In this respect, we have noted that the Armenia-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan continues to remain a cornerstone of our partnership. Last November, we approved the third upgraded program and started the implementation of its goals.
We shared a high assessment of the continuing Armenian-NATO dialogue. In this regard, we stress the importance of the North Atlantic Council-Armenia meeting which is to start in a few minutes and which provides a good opportunity to present to our NATO colleagues our vision of the threats and challenges to the security in the South Caucasus and the ways to meet them.
I'm glad that the SG and the Alliance in general highly appreciate Armenia's efforts towards maintaining peace and stability worldwide. We realize that the existing threats and challenges can only be met through a joint effort. It is to that end that last summer we tripled the number of Armenian troops participating in the ISAF.
We discussed also the latest developments in the process of negotiations to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan strongly opposes any proposal aimed at confidence-building, be it regional cooperation or easing the tension on the line of contact.
For example, unfortunately, Azerbaijan opposes the withdrawal of snipers from the frontline. It opposes the investigation of incidents. Moreover, the costful war had not stopped for a moment. The Azerbaijani leadership continues to instill hatred towards Armenians.
Only a few days ago, the president of Azerbaijan has stated that the number one enemy of Azerbaijanis is the Armenian nation worldwide. I believe the international community should address this.
The Secretary General and I agree that the conflict should only be resolved through peaceful means and through negotiations, within the format of a main group. I'm... We are confident that a lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will only be possible through the respect of right of people for self-determination and provision of comprehensive security guarantees. And to conclude, I would like to reiterate Armenia's readiness to continue a mutual and beneficial cooperation with the North Atlantic Alliance, thank you. (...)