President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Khachaturyan,
I am pleased to have a chance to meet and get to know you better.
I hope coming to St Petersburg and looking around at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum was worth it.
We have been holding this event for 25 years, and it has become a hallmark, at least for our country, for Russia. I hope for our partners as well.
And Armenia is not just our partner – it is our strategic ally, and we appreciate it. We understand everything that is happening today in and around Armenia. We are determined to expand our partnership. We are interested in ensuring stability and progressive development in your country.
I strongly hope that today’s meeting will also contribute to this.
So, it is a pleasure to see you. Welcome.
President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan: Mr Putin, I certainly feel very good here.
It has been a long time since I visited St Petersburg, although I used to come here often during the Soviet times, that is, in the 1980s and up to 1992. For me, it is also an opportunity to see how much the city has changed. As a former mayor of a city, I can also assess how good the city really looks. I remember that at that time the city was different; it is so clean and beautiful now.
I am aware of your personal feelings about St Petersburg. I feel the same towards Yerevan: I keep looking and thinking what can be improved. I understand that St Petersburg leaders feel the same, and there is also your involvement, too.
As for the St Petersburg forum, it is my first time here, unfortunately; that’s just how it happened. But I have always followed it as an economist and praised it because it is a venue for very important and interesting discussions about the economy.
Yesterday’s discussion at the platforms was also very interesting with the country’s economic leaders, your aide [Maxim Oreshkin], Economy Minister [Maxim Reshetnikov] and Central Bank Governor [Elvira Nabiullina] as speakers. I tried to envision, as a specialist, how things would unfold, and my expert evaluation coincided with what you said today.
By the way, I was following especially closely the matters I am knowledgeable about. I may not be a great expert in politics and I am only a beginner in diplomacy, but I have always been focusing on economic aspects and I want to say that I agree with the conclusions you made. This is indeed a new age. Actually, we all have to start thinking about how to develop under new conditions, which offer new opportunities.
I agree, among other things, with the conclusions by the Central Bank Governor: we should not think that the situation will change and the sanctions will be lifted. We just have to adjust and prepare the economy for quite different challenges.
I believe that Russia’s economy will withstand these trials in view of the resources and opportunities available and considering the two months that have elapsed. The expectations and prediction, even by Russian specialists, financiers and economists – you also mentioned that – did not come true.
It is also interesting which methods were used by the Central Bank, the economic agencies and the Finance Ministry for the ruble to recover, inflation to stop and development to continue. Even now, the current, recent assessments by the International Monetary Fund have already changed for the better.
Thank you very much for inviting me. I feel very good here, and I had a great welcome.
I would like to express my personal gratitude for this opportunity to meet you. It is a great honour for me as a person – I am sincere in saying that. I did not have such an opportunity even in the 1990s – we could have met as colleagues back then, as I worked as a city mayor and you worked in St Petersburg mayors’ office. It is a great honour for me.
I believe the Armenian people appreciate your efforts in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I can assure you that what you did during the hostilities, your efforts, which stopped the war – I am not the only person who appreciates that. I know that the Armenian people also appreciate it.
In reality, we meant to stop that war in some way earlier, and I am aware of your efforts. You had a chance [to do that] as early as October 19  – we spoke about that with Mr Lavrov when he was in Yerevan. But it happened that the war stopped on November 9 , and this is what matters most.
Your efforts to make sure there are no more hostilities, that the agreements between you, the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Azerbaijan are reinforced and observed, all that is also very important for us.
I do not want to talk about our historical friendship and so on. Do you know why? Because when you have brotherly relations, you do not say “a good brother” or “a bad brother.” Brotherly relations mean brotherly. In essence, this is everything: trust, sincerity, joint programmes that must go on.
It was not me who decided that – it was decided by our ancestors 200 year ago or earlier that we must live together, use our joint efforts to develop. This is my stance as a citizen and as a human being. It helps me now that I am President because I understand that the Government and the Prime Minister have the same commitment.
The latest official visit by our Prime Minister [Nikol Pashinyan] also has great significance for us. This visit had a tremendous impact on the overall domestic political situation because before it, there were different rumours, but it was very important how you received him here and what he felt when visiting Nizhny Novgorod.
I believe that our further relations will continue progressing. What we need is to help the country’s leadership, I mean Armenia, and if there are any issues, they should be resolved and normal conditions should be established.
When I was a government minister, I met my Russian colleagues, especially representatives of the military-industrial complex. I realised that we have no restrictions in our talks: we can speak openly about anything, and if there are some programmes, we can pursue them together.