Putin Concludes Visit to Armenia Lays Wreath at Genocide Monument

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–An official press release–issued on Monday says–"The Presidents of Russia and Armenia–Vladimir Putin and Robert Kocharian have exchanged their opinions about the prospects for further development of Armenian-Russian relations–as well as about a variety of international and regional issues with complete mutual understanding and accord during the talks held in Yerevan." The two especially support the maintenance and further strengthening of spiritual and cultural ties between the two nations.

"The presidents agreed that the tragic events in the US have forcefully displayed the need for the activation of joint efforts within the international community to fight against this 21st-century evil–international terrorism."

They expressed their satisfaction with Armenian-Russian military and military-technical cooperation–which is necessary to ensure the two states’ security and is not directed against any third country.

The two noted that equality and respect for one another’s interests are the key principles of allied partnership between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation. They pointed out the necessity for the further development of trade and economic cooperation. They stressed the need for increased economic integration and encouragement of reciprocal investmen’s through the creation of joint enterprises with different forms of ownership.

The sides also signed an intergovernmental agreement on "Principles of cooperation between administrations (governmen’s) of subjects of the Russian Federation and regional administrations of Armenia." Both presidents described it as a document which "will make cooperation between the two countries understandable and predictable. All diversity of regional relations should be recorded in the present normative base," and so that "relations should be stimulated not only at the central level but also between regions."

Also intergovernmental agreemen’s on "cooperation in tourism–mutual recognition of documen’s on education–scientific degrees–scientific titles–cooperation in the gas industry–and encouragement of mutual protection of capital investmen’s," were signed as well. Putin said this cooperation would result in the creation of new highly paid jobs. "Russia views Armenia as a reliable partner and improvement of partnership relations with it is the principled choice of the Russian people."

According to official statistics–trade between Russia and Armenia increased by 21 percent in the first five months of 2001 totaling $85.7 million. Russia’s contribution in Armenia’s turnover of foreign trade increased from 15 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2001.

Armenia’s exports to Russia increased by 76.3 percent to $22.5 million–while Russian exports to Armenia increased by 9.1 percent to $63.2 million.

Russia is the leading direct investor in Armenia’s economy–with investmen’s totaling $43.4 million in 2000 and $22 million in the first half of 2001. Russia maintains key positions in the Armenian fuel and energy industries. The Armenian nuclear power plant that uses Russian fuel supplies 40 percent of the country’s energy.

On the second day of his visit to Armenia–Putin met with leaders of parliament factions and groups. Armenia’s parliament speaker Armen Khachtrian welcomed the guest saying that his visit will open a new chapter in Russian-Armenian relations. He said that inter-parliamentary contacts are a great stimulus for developing bilateral relations between the two friendly nations.

Putin was quoted as saying that–"Russia is satisfied with the rapidly developing Russian-Armenian inter-parliamentary relations." Putin also called on the two parliamen’s to supervise the implementation of bilateral agreemen’s more vigilantly. He also referred to the so-called Caucasian Four regional security system–saying that Armenia’s relations with Russia could serve as a good model for its formation. An inter-parliamentary dialogue between the South Caucasian countries will help further confidence and it will open the door for a possible solution to the Karabakh conflict. Russia regards Armenia as a strategic partner and Russia’s policies in the region are aimed at ensuring Armenia’s security and making sure that no problems emerge in the region.

Putin stressed the need for continuation of talks between Kocharian and Aliyev in their efforts to end the Karabakh conflict. "Russia will accept any solution which is accepted by those involved in the conflict," Putin said–adding that Russia might come out as guarantor of the agreed option. Russia’s task was not to harm the negotiating process between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The sides confirmed their adherence to a peaceful settlement of the conflict–taking into account the norms and principles of the international law. He continued–"In making mutual concessions I don’t want the sides to consider any pressure coming from Russia. The sides should come to an agreement themselves and Russia will oversee that the agreemen’s will not be broken." He also pledged his country’s help in the restoration of post-war Karabakh.

In reference to the so-called factories-for-debt repayment–Putin said the issue was not about paying off Armenia’s debt to Russia. "The question is whether Armenia’s leadership wants Russian capital to come to Armenia to help its revival." He also stressed the need for strengthening the Russian language in Armenia. "We are not imposing our views–but the concern is that the Russian language is the basis of our cooperation–it is the spiritual origin which has been a uniting factor for Armenia’s and Russian throughout the centuries."

Putin met with Catholicos Karekin II at the reception house of Armenian national security ministry. Putin praised the Armenian Church saying that it has always strengthened Armenian statehood. Conveying the greetings of Russian Patriarch Alexiy II to Karekin II–Putin was happy to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia.

Following his meeting with the Catholicos–Putin went to the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan to pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. "Russia has always been sensitive to the pain and tragedy of the Armenian people as to its own. We bow our heads and pay homage to the memory of victims of the Genocide." Putin and his wife Liudmila laid wreaths on the memorial and planted a silver fir-tree.

Later–during a meeting at Yerevan State University–answering a question about deliveries of Russian arms to Turkey–Putin said that he had visited the memorial to the Genocide victims and that he was cognizant of the historical memory of the Armenian people. He underlined that the arms deliveries should not worry Armenia–since Turkey was not yet a member of either the Commonwealth of Independent States or the Collective Security Treaty.

Putin was awarded a Diploma of Honorary Doctor of Yerevan State University. Kocharian said that Putin’s visit is very symbolic because the visit is in time for the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of independence and the 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity. According to Kocharian–the stability in relations observed over the past decade shows that anti-Soviet sentimen’s have not evolved into anti-Russian sentimen’s.

Putin described the results of the work done in Yerevan as a continuation of the relations established between Armenia and Russia and fixed by the 2000 Declaration on Allied Interactions.

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