Armenian and Russian Presidents Meet in Kremlin

MOSCOW (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow Wednesday ahead of a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit where several former Soviet republics will focus on common defense and economic cooperation.

They both expressed satisfaction at the current state of Russian-Armenian ties–with Putin saying that they have become "more active" of late.

Kocharian agreed but noted that there are issues that still "need to be clarified" by the two governmen’s. "I would like to single out issues related to the energy sector and investmen’s," he said–hinting at Armenia’s concerns about the slow implementation of a bilateral agreement that cleared Yerevan’s $100 million debt to Moscow.

Putin–for his part–praised Kocharian for taking part in the Moscow summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC)–a Russian-led grouping of five ex-Soviet states. Armenia has so far declined to join the EurAsEC–opting instead for an observer status.

"The fact that you as a head of state take part in the EurAsEC’s activities on the permanent basis is a positive signal," Putin told the Armenian leader. "Although Armenia has an observer status in the organization–I am confident that it will help develop interaction between all our countries."

The EurAsEC countries and Armenia are also signatories to the Collective Security Treaty (CST)–a Russian-led military pact. A separate CST summit will also take place in Moscow.

Preparations for it were discussed on Wednesday by the defense ministers and top diplomats from the member states–where the Armenian delegation was led by Defense Minister Serge Sarksian.

"I continue to believe that membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization is one of the integral parts of Armenia’s national security," he said. "We have deepened our relations with NATO and the United States in recent years. And I am convinced that our relations with the CST organization in no way impede our cooperation with NATO and vice versa."

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