YEREVAN — A senior Pentagon official discussed with Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian Armenia’s growing participation in international peacekeeping operations supported by the United States during a visit to Yerevan on Monday.
Anne Witkowsky, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability and humanitarian affairs, arrived in the Armenian capital to take part in an international forum on peacekeeping hosted by the Armenian Defense Ministry. The Forum has brought together the international peacekeeping community from across the globe, including policymakers, practitioners and experts from different sectors. She also held a separate meeting with Ohanian.
A Defense Ministry statement said they discussed “U.S.-Armenian cooperation” relating to Armenia’s involvement in ongoing peacekeeping missions around the world. Regional security was also on the agenda, it said.
“Anne Witkowsky said that Armenia is an important partner in the area of international peacekeeping and that Armenia’s efforts are highly appreciated by the U.S.,” added the statement.
The Challenges Forum is a global network of partners representing 47 peace operations organizations and departments from 22 countries, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Councul.
Addressing the forum, Defense Minister Ohanian said “Armenia has not only heard about the cost of peace, it knows what needs to be paid for it.”
The Defense Minister said Armenia has always been a proponent of peace and is guided by the same principles as it participates in NATO and UN-led peacekeeping operation.
“Also, Armenia expands its capacities within the framework of the CSTO through military exercises, the latest of which was held last week. Armenia has passed a long way in the field of peacekeeping and gained considerable experience,” the Defense Minister said.
Buy hosting the Challenges Forum, Armenia yet again demonstrates its commitment to contribute to international efforts aimed at establishment and reinforcement of peace, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said.
The Minister said it’s possible to reach lasting peace through political solutions, not by force. “The decisions should be adopted with the participation of all parties to the conflict. Political solutions should decide and guide the format of peacekeeping operations and the possible deployment of peacekeepers.”
A peacekeeping brigade of the Armenian armed forces has already received large-scale assistance from the U.S., Germany, Greece and other NATO member states since it was set up over a decade ago. The brigade currently has about 200 rotating soldiers serving in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Lebanon. Earlier this month, NATO upgraded its evaluation of the brigade’s combat readiness and interoperability with NATO forces.