YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Armenia Newspaper)–Argentine and Armenian officials say an official visit to Yerevan Tuesday by Argentina’s President Carlos Menem will raise bilateral relations to a higher level–producing a legal framework for emerging economic cooperation.
Speaking at a joint news conference Monday–Vahan Ter-Ghevondian–Armenia’s Ambassador to Buenos Aires–and his Argentine counterpart said apart from reflecting the existing friendly ties between the two countries–the visit will also produce significant practical results.
Menem and Armenian President Robert Kocharian are due to sign a joint statement and four agreemen’s on various fields. One of them calls for the elimination of entry visas for diplomatic and business trips.
Ter-Ghevondian said the 100,000-strong–well-to-do Armenian Diaspora in Argentina should be "at the forefront" of economic relations. He said a delegation of Armenian-Argentine entrepreneurs is currently in Yerevan to look into the possibility of doing business in the motherland. Some representatives of the Diaspora occupy leading positions and have considerable economic clout in Argentina’s business community. The ambassadors stressed that President Menem will be accompanied by a group of Argentine businessmen.
A delegation of Argentine-Armenian community comprised of the Prelate and representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–the Armenian National Committee of Argentina–as well as the Argentine-Armenian Business and Industry Organization whose chairman–Manuel Arslanian will lead the delegation–will also be in Armenia during Menem’s visit.
Our sister publication Armenia–published in Buenos Aires had exclusive interviews with Menem–Ter-Ghevondian and Arslanian–all of whom discussed their upcoming mission in Armenia.
In his remarks–Menem emphasized the strategic importance of the Caucasus region–adding that the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was a precondition for socio-economic advancement in the region.
Menem also stated that direct dialogue between the sides to the conflict was the optimum way to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and supported the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group efforts to mediate a resolution to the conflict.
Menem greatly commended the efforts of the Armenian community–emphasizing its important role in the bridging relations between Armenia and Argentina.
In his interview–Ter-Ghevondian outlined the political importance of Menem’s visit to Armenia and as a means of opening new avenues for future such visits.
He added–however–that Armenia did not expect much from Argentina in directly influencing Armenia’s relations with its neighbors.
The ambassador did not exclude the possibility that Argentina could indirectly play a role in the political advancement of the Caucasus.
Ter-Ghevondian stated that Menem had not declined a state invitation to visit the Dzidzerbnagapert Genocide memorial monument–adding–however–that observers should not expect major inroads in the discussion of the Genocide recognition issue or the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict–since the visit aimed at extending economic relations.
He stressed that Menem would be traveling to the Armenia with representatives of Argentina’s international economic relations council–who would be following a parallel agenda with Armenia’s business and industry leaders.
Ter-Ghevondian said that various spheres of Armenian industry interested Argentina–especially the auto-mechanical manufacturing industry.
Arslanian stated that Menem has always been interested in communicating with Armenia and Armenian community leaders–and had planned to take members of his administration specializing in the business and trade as part of his delegation.
Arslanian explained that the inclusion of those administration experts in the delegation was scratched at the last minute–but reported that the Argentine foreign ministry would be sending high-level officials to Armenia to accompany the delegation of visiting business and industry leaders.
Arslanian added that Argentine-Armenian businessmen had long been interested in making investmen’s in Armenia–stressing that one of the mission of his delegation would be to expand ties with Armenia-based businesses and explore investmen’s opportunities in Armenia.
The Argentine business leader stressed that his organization could benefit Armenian businesses in the long-run since it can act as a conduit for future Armenia-Argentina trade ventures–eliminating the middle-man in those trade activities.
He also pledged his organization’s willingness to lobby for Armenian interests in Argentina.