Russian’s Putin Begins Official Visit to Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Armenia began Friday. At the airport Vladimir Putin and his wife Liudmila were welcomed by President of the Republic of Armenia Robert Kocharian and his wife Bella.

The Russian delegation also includes Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo–Vice-Chairman of the Government–Russian Chairman of the Armenian-Russian intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation Ilya Klebanov–Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov–and other officials. At the airport the delegation was joined by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov–who was already in Armenia–and Russian Ambassador to Armenia Anatoly Driukov.

After departing from the airport everyone was invited to Kocharian’s residence in Sevan where an unofficial meeting of the two presidents took place.

On Saturday–President Putin will meet with the Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin II–then the president and his wife will visit the Genocide memorial.

The same day–the official delegation of Russia will head for the Armenian president’s residence where Putin and Kocharian will hold talks followed by enlarged. Putin will also meet with Armenian parliamentarians–visit Yerevan State University–and also visit the Matenadaran (Ancient Manuscripts Museum). He will also meet with many Russian and Armenian businessmen.

Liudmila Putin is going to visit the Center of the Russian Language in Yerevan.

The visit is covered by representatives from 31 Russian and 36 Armenian mass media.

Before the Putin’s arrival–Armenia’s and Russia’s defense ministers signed the agreement "On the dispatching of Russian military specialists to the Republic of Armenia," and the Protocol. Sargssian pointed out that 40 interstate and intergovernmental agreemen’s on military cooperation have already been signed between the two countries–which is a substantial legal foundation for cooperation. Sargssian said that the two sides have undertaken the creation of joint military units and planed their action. "This is one of the components of our national security," he said–adding that Armenia and Russia enjoyed a special military partnership–different from economic cooperation.

Speaking in a joint news conference Sergey Ivanov affirmed that the strengthening of relations with CIS member countries has become one of the top priorities of Russia’s policy.

Ivanov stressed that Armenia is one of Russia’s oldest partners. "Here we do not feel as if were in the territory of a foreign state," Ivanov said.

According to him–Russia is actively developing relations with the military offices of the other CIS countries. In particular–he mentioned his recent meeting with Azerbaijan’s defense minister in Moscow. "We believe that all our efforts must be aimed at providing the population of the South Caucasus a peaceful life–calmness–mutual understanding–for an active military cooperation to be carried on," said the Russian defense minister.

"All our efforts should be directed to establishment of the atmosphere of mutual understanding and peace among the South Caucasian peoples," continued Ivanov.

Ivanov pointed out that the first agreement regulates the regime of dispatching of Russian military specialists and experts to Armenia–which henceforth will be done on a contractual basis.

Also regarding the second agreement that dealt with the exchange of land plots–Ivanov states–"I’ll be frank–it will be beneficial to the 102nd Russian military base."

Sargssian pointed out that it will be beneficial to Armenia as well–"the stronger the 102nd military is the stronger our security is." Sargssian reported that the last of the land plots has been allotted under the air-defense systems that are already on duty.

Responding to the question as to whether Armenia is providing its land for the 102nd military base because of its spirit of strategic partnership–or that Russia calculated each ruble of Armenia’s national debt–Ivanov stated that security is impossible to measure in terms of money. Sargssian stated that no portion of Armenia’s national debt to Russia is from military expenses. According to Sargssian–the training of Armenian students in Russian military educational establishmen’s would now cost a total of $50 million. The minister said that "relations in the military sphere are original and are basically different from those in the economic sphere." Sargssian expressed confidence that "the balance disturbance is advantageous to Armenia." Armenia is Russia’s only strategic partner beyond the Caucasus with Russian 102nd base located in the Armenian territory. In addition–Russian and Armenian border jointly guards the southern borders of the CIS.

The fight against international terrorism was one of the main themes at the talks of the two ministers. Also a memorandum on the results of Sergey Ivanov’s visit to Yerevan was signed. After the closing ceremonies Serge Sargssian awarded his Russian counterpart and five other high-ranking Russian military officers with Armenian medals for their contribution to the strengthening of military cooperation between Russia and Armenia.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian welcomed the Foreign Minister of Russian Federation Igor Ivanov.

According to Foreign Ministry’s press office–during the meeting the two ministers reconfirmed that the political relation between the two countries are a top priority. They particularly stressed the cooperation between the foreign departmen’s of the two countries.

During the meeting the two ministers referenced the terrorist attacks in US–stating that terrorism is a great threat for international society. It was stated that the international society should cooperate and take joint steps to fight terrorism.

The Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Russian also discussed the current phase of Karabakh conflict’s settlement process.

A memorable medal–the "Emblem," of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia was awarded to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov during his official visit to Armenia. Armenia’s Defense Minister Serge Sargssian said that the Russian minister was awarded the medal for his great contribution to strengthening military cooperation between Russia and Armenia.

The same day–a number of high-ranking Russian military officials were awarded medals instituted on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Marshal Baghramian.

Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Ivanov told reporters that a meeting with the Leaders of the General Staffs of the CIS Armed Forces will be held in Moscow on September 26.

He reported that only one issue will be addressed at the meeting–which will be the coordination of actions on the military component of anti-terrorist operations.

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