Finland?s President Visits Armenia

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Finland’s President Tarja Halonen ended a two-day official visit to Yerevan on Tuesday–pledging support for Armenia’s efforts to forge closer links with the European Union and stressing the importance of its democratization.

"We have discussed how Finland can help Armenia within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy," she said after talks with President Robert Kocharian.

"I am happy to see that Armenia has a serious approach to European integration and think my counterpart too realizes that it creates many opportunities for his country but requires a great deal of efforts."

Halonen was referring to Armenia’s inclusion last year in the program designed to promote privileged partnership between the EU countries and their immediate neighbors. Kocharian and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian expressed hope that Finland will help Armenia benefit from the scheme and contribute to its broader European integration when it assumes the EU’s rotating presidency next year.

Halonen also visited the genocide memorial to 1.5 million Armenia’s killed by the government of Turkey in 1915-1923–and planted a tree in their memory.

Halonen’s visit is the first by a Finnish head of state to Caucuses Region since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991–and marks the first time a woman president visits Armenia.

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