Petrossian Says Azerbaijan Should be First to Recognize Karabakh

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–During a press conference Wednesday–Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Prime Minister Leonard Petrossian stated that Azerbaijan should be the first nation to recognize Karabakh’s independence–after which Armenia’should follow suit.

Petrossian also expressed confidence that Lebanon would become the first country to recognize Karabakh.

He held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the results of his visit to Lebanon and Syria on April 18-28. His delegation also included Primate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church–Bishop Pargev Martirossian–and the Mayor of Shoushi–Sergey Mirzoyan.

Petrossian said they were invited by Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–Aram I–to attend the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the national liberation struggle of Karabakh. The visit coincided with the celebration of the 83rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The prime minister said that in addition to attending several festive gatherings–they had the opportunity to hold several official meetings especially in Lebanon–where he met with the country’s president–speaker of the parliament–head of government and his deputy. Saying that all Armenian parties and organizations attended the festivals in Lebanon and Syria–Petrossian appreciated the assistance of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation in organizing official and other meetings.

The prime minister stressed the importance of his meetings with Armenian businessmen of Lebanon and Syria–during which they discussed investment in Karabakh’s economy. He reported that a business delegation will visit Stepanakert soon to develop business plans and specify concrete trends for further cooperation.

Petrossian said that the Catholicos Aram I and Archbishop Souren Kataroyan from Aleppo are also scheduled to visit Karabakh. Petrossian noted that the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia has pledged $100,000 for the construction of a cathedral in Stepanakert.

Petrossian reported that they had discussed the issue of declaring the Lebanese town of Bourj Hammoud and a city in Karabakh as twin towns. A delegation of the Mayor’s Office of Bourj Hammoud is scheduled to visit Karabakh in the near future.

"Armenia and Lebanon are countries of the same region and enjoy common political and public goals," said Yeghik Cherichian–Lebanese parliamentarian and member of the Lebanese delegation which recently visited Armenia. "We should not forget that Israel and Turkey have recently concluded an agreement and held extensive military exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. Israel is the enemy of trading countries of the east–and Turkey is a historical enemy of Armenia and if the enemies unite–naturally–the confronting forces unite as well," he said.

Cherichian stressed the necessity of developing Armenia-Lebanon political and economic cooperation. He particularly noted that during the Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri’s previous visit to Armenia the sides signed an agreement to establish a Lebanese bank in Armenia. "I think that it will be a great help for Armenia–because Lebanon possesses great experience in the banking sphere–and it will be a great economic help for Armenia if we manage to transfer our experience," the Lebanese deputy said.

Cherichian noted that as a result of mutual visits eight agreemen’s were signed–four of which have already been ratified by the Lebanese parliament. The agreemen’s particularly cover the spheres of air communication–tourism and culture.

"I think that cooperation between the two parliamen’s will be useful–because Lebanon has more than 50 years of parliamentary life. Many laws that have been already adopted and reviewed in Lebanon–are only in discussion in Armenia. Lebanese experience may be utilized to saving time," he said.

Cherichian reported that Lebanese deputies of Armenian origin were lobbying for Armenia long before Armenia’s independence. "We consider as our duty to propagandize in the parliament our culture–our history–and–in particular–Hay Tahd (Armenian Cause) and the Genocide," the Lebanese deputy said.

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