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Armenia to keep troops in Afghanistan: Interview with First Deputy Defense Minister of Armenia

- Armenia stated its readiness to continue supporting the stabilization process in Afghanistan after the completion of NATO-led ISAF mission. What changes will the functions of Armenian peacekeepers undergo after the mission is completed?

- We have informed NATO and Germany - our our main partner in ISAF, that the political decision is made and Armenia is capable of continuing to support the efforts aimed at stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, after ISAF is completed this December.

Under NATO’s auspices, Resolute Support mission will be launched in Afghanistan starting from 2015. ISAF mission is currently at the phase of active transformation related to the delegation of responsibility to Afghan Forces, which has an impact also on the tasks and location of Armenian peacekeepers.

Our military units are presently located in Camp Marmal and Camp Mike Spann military bases of Mazar-e-Sharif region; changes are expected in April and one of our military units might be moved to a more important military base in Kabul. The main task our peacekeepers have in Afghanistan is the same - to ensure security.

- Presently, Armenian peacekeepers perform peacekeeping operations under Germany’s command. Which country will take the command of Armenian peacekeepers after the completion of ISAF mission?

- We have a rather long-standing and effective experience of cooperation with our German partners. Considering the fact that German presence in Afghanistan will continue within the new mission as well, we will keep on cooperating with our German partners.

-Armenian training officers used to work in Kunduz. Does Armenia have any plans to send training officers to Afghanistan again?

- Our instructors completed their mission in 2012 and as of now. There is no such a requirement from our partners. We are ready to discuss the issue of sending new instructors if we receive such an offer.

- Could you please introduce the scope of operations Armenian peacekeepers will perform in Lebanon?

- The negotiation process on Armenian peacekeeping unit’s involvement within UNIFIL operation in Lebanon is at the final phase. The Italian party under the command of which Armenian peacekeepers will deploy suggested that it assumes the responsibility of ensuring the security of the military headquarters.

As time is passing countries with small military contingents but with active involvement in international operations become more tempered and specialized in various fields, such as medical support, logistics, airlift, special units and so on. Usually the headquarters prefer to utilise such national niche capabilities to fulfill relevant tasks. In this respect, we can claim that Armenian peacekeepers have been “specialized” in tasks related to force protection and security.

- Considering the extremely tense situation in Syria, don’t you think that sending Armenian peacekeepers to Lebanon will pose additional threat to the local Armenian communities?

- The issue has been discussed from all possible angles before the launch of negotiations with the UN and the Italian party, and we have come to the conclusion that Armenian peacekeepers serving to the peace in unbiased and professional manner will only create a positive environment.

Source: Mediamax