“Tango for two”: NATO Secretary General’s visit and jailed Davit Tonoyan - Mediamax.am

“Tango for two”: NATO Secretary General’s visit and jailed Davit Tonoyan
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“Tango for two”: NATO Secretary General’s visit and jailed Davit Tonoyan


After a long break, the Secretary General of NATO is scheduled to visit Armenia. The last visit of the head of the North Atlantic Alliance to Armenia dates back to September 2012, with Anders Fogh Rasmussen occupying this position at that time. The incumbent NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met three times: twice in New York and once in Davos. Their recent meeting was in September 2022, a few days after Azerbaijan launched an attack on Armenia’s territory.

Unlike Azerbaijan, where Stoltenberg will meet with Ilham Aliyev, foreign affairs and defense ministers, in Armenia and Georgia he will meet only with presidents (who do not participate in decision-making process) and prime ministers.

In Yerevan, Jens Stoltenberg will not meet with one of the key (if not the primary) architects behind significant progress in NATO-Armenia relations - former Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan. The meeting will not take place because Davit Tonoyan has been in prison for 2.5 years under a fabricated criminal case, the real purpose of which, in my opinion, is to make him “main culprit” for Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 war. Despite Tonoyan’s claims about the violation of his rights and his demand for an open trial, these messages have neither yielded tangible results, nor garnered any attention from Armenia’s Western partners, who “do not notice” any violation of democracy and human rights in Armenia over the past 6 years.

The content of Armenia-NATO relations owes much to the efforts of Davit Tonoyan, dating back to his tenure as Armenia’s military representative to NATO. Moreover, the lion’s share of this content was created before the change of power in 2018, and over the past 6 years there has been minimal progress, if not to say, even a decline in relations.

Naturally, political decisions are made by political leaders. Without Robert Kocharyan’s decision to change the quality and depth of relations with NATO, Davit Tonoyan and other officials would not have been able to do anything. However, history has repeatedly proven the crucial role of personal efforts of the individuals who breathe life into political decisions made.

I can say with confidence that without Davit Tonoyan’s contribution, Armenia would not have achieved the adoption of its first Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO in 2006  - a truly groundbreaking achievement for a country that was largely perceived in the West as Russia’s “annex”. It was through Tonoyan’s efforts that the NATO Information Center was inaugurated in Yerevan in the fall of 2006, supporting the development of relations between Armenia and the alliance for many years. The development of Armenia’s peacekeeping capabilities was also the result of Davit Tonoyan’s consistent work.

Under his initiative the Strategic Defense Review (SDR) was conducted in the Armed Forces of Armenia, with the support of NATO. This is a comprehensive and sensitive process, allowing to identify problems and suggest ways to solve them. During the period (2010-2011) when the first SDR process was underway in the Armenian Armed Forces, it had not been implemented even in a number of NATO member countries.



In November 2016, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General Jamie Shea, speaking in Yerevan about the perspective of development of Armenia-NATO relations, expressed opinion that within the frames of the next 2-year round of Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), special attention must be paid to interoperability of troops. “Several Armenian units have been certified and comply with highest NATO standards, which is a great achievement,” Jamie Shea said.

“As they say, one needs a partner to dance tango. So, we can definitely claim that Armenia and NATO make great tango partners,” Jamie Shea noted.

Of course, having a partner is important, but first, you need to have the ability to dance. And if you lack it, at least, you must not keep in prison someone who has danced many such “dances”.

Ara Tadevosyan is the Director of Mediamax.

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