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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Armenia Joins Partnership for Peace

BRUSSELS -- Armenia on Wednesday became the 23rd nation to join NATO's partnership program for its former East Bloc foes.

The country's membership in Partnership for Peace should help stabilize the troubled Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union, said Vagan Papazian, Armenia's foreign minister.

But Papazian insisted that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would not play any direct role in Armenia's six-year war with neighboring Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"I don't think NATO can do anything to resolve this question," Papazian told reporters after signing the partnership accord.

"It's good to have both Armenia and Azerbaijan in the same institution," he said. "But I don't think there is any need to raise the question of Nagorno-Karabakh in the context of Partnership for Peace."

Azerbaijan signed up for the partnership in May.

Armenia's signing leaves Belarus and Tajikistan as the only nations of the former Soviet Union not in the program.

The partnership offers military and political cooperation with the 16-nation NATO alliance.

In addition to members of the former Warsaw Pact, traditionally neutral countries Sweden and Finland have joined the partnership, as has the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia.

According to Sergio Balanzino, NATO's acting secretary-general, Belarus is considering membership, and Austria has indicated it may sign up next year.