YEREVAN — Armenia is not being forced to freeze deepening relations with NATO because of its membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a senior official in Yerevan insisted on Thursday.

Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO’s Russian secretary general, said on Monday that the foreign ministers of Armenia, Russia and four other ex-Soviet states aligned in the military alliance have decided to stop trying to engage in a dialogue with NATO. The CSTO will seek to cooperate with China instead, he told lawmakers from the CSTO’s member states.

“That statement applies to organization-to-organization contacts, and not member states,” Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

“Unfortunately, NATO itself has avoided such [multilateral] cooperation, preferring to cooperate instead with [individual CSTO] members,” he said. “Bordyuzha simply noted that it makes no sense to carry on in that direction.”

Bordyuzha already stated in April that the CSTO is suspending cooperation with NATO because of the latter’s stance on Ukraine. He accused NATO of “blackmailing” CSTO member states. The Armenian Defense Ministry made clear afterwards that Yerevan intends to continue deepening ties with the U.S.-led alliance.

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian visited the NATO headquarters in Brussels last month for an annual meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and members of the alliance’s executive body, the North Atlantic Council. Nalbandian announced the impending launch of a new three-year plan of joint activities.

Rasmussen thanked Armenia for deciding to keep 120 or so Armenian soldiers in Afghanistan after the official completion of NATO-led combat operations there in December. The Defense Ministry in Yerevan reaffirmed earlier in May that they will join a new NATO mission dubbed Resolute Support.

“The relations between Armenia and NATO are very good,” Karl Lamers, the deputy president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, said during a visit to Yerevan earlier this week. Lamers told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that those relations will not be adversely affected by Armenia’s plans to join another Russian-led structure, the Eurasian Economic Union.

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