YEREVAN—Cooperation between Lebanon and Armenia got a boost over the weekend with the official visit of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to Armenia, where leaders of the two countries signed agreements on furthering cooperation in the realms of industry, culture and economy.
Suleiman arrived in Yerevan with his wife, Waffa, and was greeted at the airport by President Serzh Sarkisian and other dignitaries.
President Suleiman then visited the Dzidzernagapert memorial monument and paid tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. He also visited the Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute and planted a tree at the Alley of Memory.
At the official welcoming ceremony, Sarkisian praised the traditional friendly relations between the two countries and awarded Suleiman with the Armenian Order of Honor. This gesture was reciprocated with Suleiman awarding Sarkisian the Lebanese Order of Merit.
Following talks among the two countries’ delegation Sarkisian and Suleiman held a press conference, during which the Karabakh conflict resolution process became a focal point.
Sarkisian blasted Azeri efforts to characterize the Karabakh question as a Christian-Muslim conflict.
“We have discussed the Nagorno Karabakh issue. I noted that Azerbaijan is trying stubbornly to present the conflict as a religious disagreement within Islamic circles. I believe those who are more or less familiar with the history of the Armenian people and causes of the conflict will never believe such nonsense. But at the same time, we consider such approach to be extremely dangerous because there are also circles unfamiliar with the details and such anti-Armenian propaganda can have certain negative impact. In this case too, the unbiased and fair stance of friendly countries is important since any impartiality can breach a fragile balance and endanger stability in the region,” explained Sarkisian.
In response to a reporter’s question, Suleiman acknowledged that the religious conflict characterization was indeed made at the Islamic conference.
“Lebanon has always maintained that we will be against any decision in that organization which will be aimed against Armenia or Karabakh. We believe that the issue must be solved based on international law and the right of people for self-determination. I wish that the existing group, for instance, the Minsk Group as well as spiritual leaders, spare no effort to resolve this issue. We also want world’s great powers and countries spare no effort to solve issues such as the issue of Palestine, for example, the issue of Nagorno Karabakh, other issues as well, so that peace reigns in the world. And if we succeed in eliminating and pacifying these hot spots and reach stability, we will be helping the process and will defeat all terrorist acts which can happen in the world,” explained Suleiman.
A state dinner was held in Suleiman’s honor on Friday evening, with Suleiman and his delegation departing Armenia on Saturday.