Kosovo Leader Makes First-Ever Visit To Armenia
Emil Danielyan, 12 Oct, 2018
Despite Armenia’s continuing reluctance to recognize his country’s independence, President Hashim Thaci of Kosovo was received by his Armenian counterpart Armen Sarkissian on Friday on the sidelines of a summit of the Francophonie organization held in Yerevan.
Thaci was among the leaders of over three dozen French-speaking nations who arrived in the Armenian capital to take part in the two-day summit. It was his first-ever visit to Armenia.
Thaci shook hands with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian at the start of the summit on Thursday. He described his ensuing meeting with Sarkissian as “good.”
“I expressed our desire to increase our interaction within multilateral, cultural, economic spheres of influence,” he wrote on his Twitter page.
A separate statement by Thaci’s office said he and the Armenian president “agreed to continue mutual communication in the future.”
Sarkissian’s press service said the two men spoke about “challenges facing the humanity and possibilities of overcoming them.” It referred to Thaci as “the leader of a country that has received the status of an associated member in the International Organization of the Francophonie.”
Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 after a NATO bombing campaign to stop Serbian forces killing and expelling ethnic Albanians making up the vast majority of the territory’s population. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and has since been recognized by more than 100 states.
Armenia has still not recognized the former Serbian province as an independent state. Russia, its closest ally, continues to strongly support Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo.
Even so, Yerevan reacted positively to a July 2010 ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that upheld the legality of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia. Meeting with his Kosovar counterpart in New York in September 2010, then Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said the UN court thereby backed the principle of peoples’ right to self-determination.
Armenia has championed that principle in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Its leaders hoped that the ICJ decision will strengthen their case for similar international recognition of Karabakh’s de facto secession from Azerbaijan.
Also, some 35 Armenian soldiers have been serving in Kosovo as part of a NATO-led multinational force.
Incidentally, Nalbandian’s successor, Zohrab Mnatsakanian, met on Friday with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who represented his country at the Francophonie summit. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the two men discussed ways of boosting Serbian-Armenian “interaction within international bodies” as well as “a number of pressing regional issues.”
Armenian Troops Withdrawn From Kosovo
Sargis Harutyunyan 08.02.2012
Armenia has ended its participation in NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo eight years after sending troops to the former Yugoslav region, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian confirmed on Wednesday.
Ohanian said a 35-strong platoon of the Armenian Armed Forces has returned to Yerevan because of an ongoing reduction in the size of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) that reflects improved security conditions in the newly independent state. Speaking at a news conference, he specifically pointed to the pullout of most of a Greek peacekeeping battalion stationed there since 1999.
The Armenian contingent was part of that battalion deployed in eastern Kosovo, an area controlled by KFOR’s U.S.-led Multinational Brigade East.
In a separate interview with the Mediamax news agency, Ohanian said Armenia is ready to send its troops back to Kosovo if another NATO member state agrees to cover their logistical expenses in place of Greece. He said the Armenian military has already received a relevant offer from Hungary and is now considering it.
According to NATO, Hungary currently has 261 soldiers on the ground, compared with 204 Greek servicemen remaining in Kosovo as of February 1.
The deployment of Armenian soldiers in Kosovo in February 2004 marked the start of Armenia’s first-ever military mission abroad. Yerevan contributed dozens of troops to the U.S. occupation force in Iraq and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan in the following years. The number of Armenian troops serving in Afghanistan was almost tripled to about 130 in June 2011.
These missions have highlighted Armenia’s growing military ties with NATO and the United States in particular. A senior U.S. defense official said last summer that the Pentagon will continue to assist in the ongoing expansion of an Armenian army unit that provides military personnel for multinational operations abroad.
Armenia participation in such operations is envisaged by Yerevan’s Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO launched in 2005. The cooperation framework also commits the country, traditionally reliant on close military ties with Russia, to implementing wide-ranging defense reforms.