Belarus President Urges Boosting Trade with Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A delegation headed by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian arrived in the Belarussian capital of Minsk–Wednesday.

The two day official visit of the Armenian delegation is the highest level meeting between the two sides in history. The delegation included Minister of Industry and Trade–Karen Chshmaritian–Minister of Agriculture Gevorgian–Chief of Government Staff Manoukian–National Assembly deputy Badalian–and other officials and representatives of business circles.

Markarian and his party were greeted by Belarus Prime Minister Yermoshin–Vice-Premier Latipov and other high-ranking officials. At the airport–the two premiers held a brief tte–tte meeting during which they discussed the goals and objectives of the visit.

During the first half of the day at the Presidential Palace–Prime Minister Markarian met with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. Markarian conveyed Armenian President Robert Kocharian’s greetings to President Lukashenko–stressing Armenia’s readiness to maintain and deepen relations with Belarus. On behalf of Armenia’s president–Markarian invited Lukashenko to visit Armenia this fall.

Turning to foreign relations–Lukashenko stressed the need to create an appropriate legal environment to serve as a solid foundation for cooperation. "Belarus and Armenia need to boost their trade and economic relations," said President Lukashenko.

The Belarus President also emphasized his personal relationship with Armenian President Kocharian–whom he consults with on all aspects of bilateral relations. "We have full mutual understanding on political issues–too," Lukashenko said.

However–the potential of cooperation is still not being tapped in full–Lukashenko said. Therefore–there has been only a small volume of trade turnover between the two countries. Between January-May of this year–it reached only $651,000–a 34 percent fall from last year.

Lukashenko expressed hope that Markarian’s visit would contribute to a more dynamic and stable development in the two countries’ trade and economic ties.

Contributing to this task is a Belarus-Armenian commission on trade and economic cooperation–which held its first session in January. The next session is scheduled for the fall.

The prime ministers of Belarus and Armenia also held negotiations later in the afternoon. The members of the Armenian delegation and heads of relevant departmen’s of Belarus joined the two premiers after the meeting talk.

The negotiations resulted in the signing of about ten intergovernmental agreemen’s–on cooperation in the field of high attestation of scientific and scientific-pedagogical personnel–on exclusion of double taxation of incomes and property and prevention of tax evasion cases–on economic and scientific-technical cooperation in agribusiness–and on cooperation in the financial and banking sphere.

Later in the evening–Prime Minister Markarian and his delegation visited Armenia’s Embassy in Belarus. A meeting with representatives of the local Armenian community was held at the House of Friendship.

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