YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — The 10th NATO Week kicked off today in Armenia at the organization’s Information Center in Yerevan, which also celebrates the 10th anniversary of its foundation.

Gagik Hovhannisyan, Head of Armenian MFA Arms Control and International Security Department, Mher Israyelyan, Deputy Chief of Department of Defense Policy of Armenian Ministry of Defense, William Lahue, Head of the NATO Liaison Office to South Caucasus, and Matthias Kiesler, German Ambassador to Armenia spoke about NATO-Armenia relations at the Center today.

“NATO and Armenia have a very reliable, steady and substantial partnership,” James Appathurai NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said in a video message on the occasion of the NATO Week in Armenia.

According to him, the most obvious element of that long-standing cooperation is Armenia’s contribution to NATO peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

He pointed to other non-military fields of cooperation, such as defense education, fight against corruption, science for peace programs. “It’s a very good two-way, mutual relationship, which benefits both parties,” he said.

“Armenia has a balanced foreign policy,” he said, adding that Armenia-NATO cooperation is in no way detrimental to Armenia’s other bilateral or multilateral relationships,” James Appathurai said.

William Lahue said that Armenia-NATO partnership is founded on strong bases, as it is mutually beneficial.

He informed that apart from other issues, Syrian crisis was discussed last week with Armenian delegation, which visited NATO Headquarters.

“We know that Armenia has hosted more than 20,000 refugees from Syria. We also know that a big number of Armenians live in Syria now, in particular in Aleppo, and Armenia is concerned about their future,” U.S. official said.

Matthias Kiesler noted that NATO Week is a very important event, “as it gives the opportunity to introduce NATO-Armenia excellent cooperation to Armenian public, as not everyone is aware of it.”

Gagik Hovhannisyan and Mher Israyelyan introduced the history of Armenia-NATO cooperation and ongoing projects, emphasizing that Armenian side is ready to develop collaboration with the Alliance both in military and public sectors.

The NATO Week that kicked off in Yerevan today will continue through November 18 and will be accompanied by a number of events. It’s aimed at raising awareness about Armenia-NATO relations among the society.

German Ambassador to Armenia Matthias Kiesler considers that NATO Week is yet another opportunity to discuss important issues of bilateral interest.

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