“We have voiced our opposition to drawing new separating lines in the Caucasus or formation of new groupings,” Armenian defense minister Serzh Sarkisian said on Friday in a reference to the military presence of US in Georgia’s Pankisi region. Back from Russian Sanct Petersburg where he had attended a meeting of CIS defense ministers council session, Sarkisian said it was premature to talk about destabilization of the region’s situation. “We shall live and see,” he said laconically, citing Russia’s Putin who said that like in Central Asia, USA could have its troops in the Caucasus as well.
He dismissed reports that the visit of senior US officials to Yerevan was linked to expansion of anti-terrorist actions by USA in Georgia’s Pankisi gorge. “The arrival of the US experts is in no way connected to the latest developments in Georgia,” he said.
The US experts will hold talks with the leadership of the Armenian Defense Ministry on the main directions of bilateral military cooperation. In particular, they will review preparations for the Armenian Defense Minister's forthcoming (March 18-21) visit to Washington in March as well as the contents of the military cooperation program for this year.
Sarkisian said that the waiver of Section 907 gave US defense department good possibilities to expand military cooperation with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.
He also said that the Armenian peace-keeping battalion was already formed and its location, number of soldiers and officers were defined.
Sarkisian also spoke about the results of his last week visit to Cyprus. According to him, the intergovernmental agreement will provide new chances for development of military and military technical collaboration between the two countries. “Cyprus is one of those countries with which Armenia has good prospects for development in this area,” he said and added that this cooperation is not directed against any third country and its goal is to improve the combat readiness of the two armies. He also dismissed allegations that he thought possible return of several of liberated territories in Karabagh. He said the allegations were the result of wrong commentaries.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign