Sarkisian Intends to Invite Gul to Armenia for Soccer Match

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)–During a town hall meeting with the Russian-Armenian community Monday, President Serzh Sarkisian discussed a myriad issues, including his intention to invite his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to Yerevan for the upcoming Armenia-Turkey soccer match.

The town hall style event featured speeches by a number of prominent members in the Russian-Armenian community, as well as the Co-Chair of the Armenian-Russian Interparliamentary Commission, Nikolay Ryzhkov. Moscow State University President Victor Sadovnich was also present to award Sarkisian with a University award.

The historic ties that bind Armenia with its Russian Diaspora are strong, multifaceted and continue to exert great influence on relations between Armenia and Russia, Sarkisian told the gathering.

During his speech Sarkisian spoke about the future of Armenia-Diaspora relations, the internal political situation in the country, Armenian-Turkish relations, and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.

"Today, the homeland has entered a new stage of reforms and the solution of the problems facing Armenia and the success of the implementation of programs are possible only with the coordination of all Armenia’s," he said.

Sarkisian explained that the monumental role the Diaspora plays in Armenia’s future has led the Government to create of a separate Ministry for Diaspora Affairs.

The ministry, he said, will formulate an effective Diaspora policy for the Armenian Government in order to harness the energies and strengths of the Diaspora to turn Armenia, among other things, into a regional power for healthcare, banking and tourism.

Turning to Armenia’s political situation, Sarkisian discussed the domestic political landscape during Armenia’s presidential elections, and his administration’s stated goal to build bridges with all political forces in the country.

Sarkisian presented the Government’s official position on Armenian-Turkish relations, explaining that Armenia continues to advocate for the opening of borders without preconditions.

"There should be no closed borders between neighbor countries in the 21st century, Sarkisian said, noting that regional cooperation can be the best means for establishing stability in the region."

He explained that the Turkish side suggests that a commission to study the historic facts of the Genocide must be established before relations can be restored.

Armenia does not oppose the creation of such a commission, but the border must first be opened, he stressed, because the creation of such a commission without the normalization of relations will only solidify the current situation where Turkey continues to deny the Genocide.

"In the future I intend to undertake new steps to further the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations," he said. "I will invite Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul to Yerevan to watch the soccer match between the national football teams of Armenia and Turkey."

Discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Sarkisian gave the audience a briefing on his recent talks in Saint Petersburg with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and assured them that the people of Nagorno-Karabkh will never live under Azerbaijan.

"The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have legally earned their right to independence and have even defended it against aggression," Sarkisian stated. "Any solution to the conflict must provide for the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh."

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