Argentine President Carlos Menem Arrives in Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The President of Argentina Carlos Menem arrived in Armenia Monday on a one-day visit. He was greeted at the Zvartnots airport in Yerevan President of Armenia Robert Kocharian–Prime Minister Armen Darbinian–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–Yerevan’s Mayor Suren Abrahamian–Argentina’s Ambassador to Armenia Arnoldo Listre and Armenia’s Ambassador to Argentina Vahan Ter-Ghevondian.

The Argentinean delegation includes First Deputy Chairman of the Argentinean Senate–Argentina’s Interior Minister–commander of land forces–Foreign Minister’s deputies for economic relations–consulate and general affairs–president of the national bank and other officials. The President of Argentina was also accompanied by his daughter Sulema Maria Eva Menem. The Argentinean delegation also includes representatives of the Armenian community of Argentina and businessmen.

In a short interview with Armenian journalists–Menem said that "Argentina will also be beside the Armenian people–particularly–today when Armenia needs support from the international community." He noted that there are more than 100,000 Armenia’s in Argentina who contribute to the development of the country.

The presidents of both countries signed a joint statement on the basis of friendly relations between the two countries.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister of Argentina Andres Cisneros signed agreemen’s on the peaceful use of nuclear energy–and on bilateral cooperation in health care–culture and education sectors. The sides also signed an agreement–simplifying visa procedures.

After the signing ceremony–both presidents said they were satisfied with the results of the negotiations. In particular–Kocharian said the talks were useful and pleasant–saying that "we have similar positions on almost all issues."

During the meeting the sides discussed possibilities of developing bilateral relations and cooperation under the umbrella of international organizations. Both presidents also addressed regional problems–including the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two also considered the participation of the Argentinean "Bridas" oil and gas company in Transcaucasian oil projects. Argentina’s President vowed to support Armenia in this matter.

Robert Kocharian and Carlos Menem stressed that official–as well as personal and friendly relations of the two presidents will contribute to further development of relations between the two states.

Kocharian stated during the welcome ceremony that this was the first visit to Armenia paid by a head of a Latin American state.

Armenia and Argentina prioritize trade–economic and political relations–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told the EFE Spanish News Agency. He hoped that the activities of the group of businessmen from Argentina–who will be accompanying President Carlos Menem during his official visit to Armenia–would provide an impetus to further cooperation.

Commenting on progress made in bringing the South American Common Market and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation closer together–Oskanian stressed that Argentina is pursuing quite an active policy in the Gulf and other regions close to the Transcaucasus and taking steps towards the newly independent states in the post Soviet space.

According to the Armenian foreign minister–there are no political differences between the two countries–as both understand each other’s vital problems within the international organizations. "We’ve always tried to help each other–and our positions on global issues are mainly the same," stressed Oskanian. He pointed out that it was only May 5–1993–that Argentina’s Senate unanimously adopted a resolution expressing concern over the violation of the rights of the Karabakh people and urged the country’s government to immediately extend humanitarian aid to Armenia and Karabakh as well as take measures to establish a cease-fire in Karabakh and lift the blockade.

"I hope that Argentina will continue to show understanding and constructive approaches in the Karabakh settlement," said Oskanian.

Oskanian also pointed out that on April 15–on the occasion of the 83rd anniversary of the Genocide of Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire–the Council of the autonomous city of Buenos Aires stated about its solidarity with the Armenian community of Argentina–and on April 22 Argentina’s Senate condemned the Genocide and the annihilation of ethnic–racial and religious groups as a crime against humanity.

"I am hopeful that the Argentine parliamentarians would do as Uruguay did back in 1965. Had the Genocide of Armenia’s been condemned after World War I–the Holocaust would never have happened," Oskanian concluded.

Menem and Kocharian were expected to issue a joint statement on friendly bilateral relations in Yerevan on Tuesday–Argentina’s Ambassador to Armenia Arnoldo Listre announced Monday. Four bilateral agreemen’s on cooperation in the spheres of education–culture–public health and peaceful use of nuclear energy are expected to be signed during Carlos Menem’s official visit to Armenia.

Listre described Armenia-Argentina relations in the scientific and cultural spheres as "splendid." Speaking about trade relations–he said that "they are about to start." The diplomat expressed optimism that cooperation in this sphere would grow after the agreemen’s are signed.

According to Armenia’s Ambassador to Argentina–Vahan Ter-Ghevondian–signing of the new bilateral agreemen’s between the two countries in addition to the already reached ones "will create a splendid legal field for cooperation." The governmen’s of the two countries signed agreemen’s on mutual protection and encouragement of investmen’s and on trade–economic–scientific and technical cooperation in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

Ter-Ghevondian pointed to the unprecedented character of the visit of Carlos Menem–saying that this is the first visit of a president of a Latin American country to Armenia’since the country gained independence in 1991. Menem will also visit Russia and the Ukraine.

Stating that there are 100,000 Armenia’s in Argentina today–Ter-Ghevondian stressed their role in the economic life of the country.

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