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Yerevan, Prague Sign Military Cooperation Agreement

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Lubomir Metnar, the Czech Republic Defense Minister (left) at a press briefing with his Armenian counterpart Davit Tonoyan on April 9

The defense ministers of Armenia and the Czech Republic on Tuesday signed a military cooperation agreement, by which the terms of an earlier accord would be expanded into the technical field in hopes of further strengthening ties between the two states.

The announcement was made by Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and his Czech counterpart Lubomir Metnar who met in Yerevan to discuss furthering ties between the two countries.

“The legal basis of cooperation between Armenia and the Czech Republic is the military agreement signed between the two countries in 2010 and the agreement on military-technical cooperation, signed today, stipulates areas of mutual interest, partnership and procedures,” Tonoyan told reporters after his meeting.

Tonoyan said that during the meeting with his Czech counterpart issues on regional and international security were also discussed. “We also discussed the political high-level relations between the two friendly countries and reaffirmed the general approaches to international and regional security issues. We touched upon the military-political developments in the neighborhood of our states,” he added.

During the press briefing the issue of delivery of Czech-made DANA Howitzer weapons to Azerbaijan was brought up. Metnar told reporters that the delivery of the aircraft was done by a third party, assuring that the matter was under discussion between Yerevan and Prague.

“This issue is being discussed both in the Armenian and Czech media. First of all I want to state that the Czech Republic is fulfilling not only the international, but also the Czech legislation’s demands and clearly controls the license process of exports. We fulfill all demands of the international embargo and do not provide any licenses for the supplies to Azerbaijan,” said Metnar.

The Czech defense minister said that in 2016 and 2017 his government received licensing applications for exporting the Howitzers and other military hardware, adding that all were rejected by official Prague.

“The Czech Republic clearly fulfills the obligations of international law, in particular the restrictions on international arms equipment set by the OSCE,” said Metnar who also voiced support for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Czech-made weapons surfaced during an Azerbaijani military showcase, sending Czech authorities scrambling to figure out how military hardware manufactured in their country wound up in Baku. The Slovak Spectator published an investigative piece last year reporting that Czech-made weapons were secretly and illegally shipped to Azerbaijan via Israel.

The conflict resolution process and other issues of bilateral cooperation were on the agenda of talks when Metnar met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Tuesday.

Emphasizing the important partnership with the Czech Republic, Pashinyan hailed the cooperation between the two countries in various realms, including defense saying that those ties must be strengthened and advanced.

Metnar, who is on his first visit to Armenia, also highlighted the need to expand cooperation and develop strategies that would ensure stability and security in the region.

Pashinyan briefed Metnar on the latest developments of the Karabakh conflict resolution process.

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