Vladimir Putin: We attach great importance to expanded inter-parliamentary ties. I want to say that we are quite satisfied with the positive and sustained development of Russian-Armenian relations. However, expanded and strengthened parliamentary ties are called on to play an extremely positive role in improving the entire system of Russian-Armenian relations.
We therefore consider it important to invigorate the work of the Inter-parliamentary commission for cooperation between the Armenian National Assembly (Parliament) and the Russian Federal Assembly. As I see it, both national parliaments must more effectively oversee the implementation of previously signed bilateral treaties and agreements.Members of Parliament could then make a substantial contribution to invigorated contacts and could help elevate them to an entirely new level.
In our opinion, dialogue involving members of Caucasian parliaments, including Armenian and Azerbaijani legislators, could help overcome mutual distrust between nations and would expedite the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
I want to say once again: Russia advocates continued, direct dialogue between Presidents Robert Kocharian and Heidar Aliyev. Russia would support any mutually acceptable solution to the conflict. As I have already said, and would like to repeat it once again here, in the Parliament of Armenia, Russia could guarantee the fulfilment of such agreements. We are ready to take part in the post-conflict reconstruction of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories.
The discussion of bilateral trade and economic cooperation, which, in our common opinion, still lags behind the current level of military-political cooperation, is a top-priority objective of my visit. The Russian-Armenian treaty on long-term economic cooperation was signed after the September 15 top-level bilateral talks. I hope that the Parliament of Armenia will ratify this treaty as soon as possible. And I promise that the Russian side will promptly submit this document to the State Duma.
We are moving to establish Russian-Armenian joint ventures in key sectors of the Armenian economy. Moreover, we discussed the situation in the fuel and energy sector and in some metallurgical companies during our talks.
President Kocharian proposed converting his country’s debts to Russia into Russian property. To my mind, President Kocharian wants to involve Russia and to make Russia interested in solving the problems of Armenian economic sectors and enterprises, , which now require additional investment.
The situation is very good for accomplishing this objective because the Russian economy grew by 8.3% last year; we expected 4% economic growth this year but will post 6% instead. We have the required resources, and some industries are chalking up growth of 25–30%. Export-oriented sectors are growing even more quickly, with revenue increases of 40–70%. They are ready to invest available resources and would like companies and entire sectors to prosper.
We must choose attractive and mutually acceptable projects and areas of mutual cooperation. We are no longer in a panic over the alleged sale of our Motherland; in my opinion, people here are also grown-ups and understand everything. We must therefore promote our mutual interests, and that is possible.
Parliamentary ties are necessary to formalise bilateral allied cooperation. At the same time, we must pass legislation aimed at enhancing and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation in different spheres. The State Duma has already ratified important agreements, including those on avoiding dual taxation and on the delivery of Russian diamonds to Armenia. Both national Parliaments must ratify several legislative acts on joint military planning in the interests of Russian-Armenian security.
The President of Armenia and I have discussed ways of strengthening the status of the Russian language. I want to stress once again that I have told colleagues from executive agencies that we do not want to impose anything on anyone, but that we are tackling this problem in a broader social context. The Russian language is the foundation of our cooperation and a spiritual aspect that has united our nations over the ages.
I want to discuss cooperation in the sphere of education and culture. We are always paying attention to these aspects. The Parliaments of Russia and Armenia will help open a Russian science and cultural centre in Armenia as stipulated by a bilateral agreement. Russian sponsors plan to set aside large sums for repairing the Russian-Armenian Slavonic University. And we hope that Armenian organisations will also join this effort as equal partners.
We are closely following efforts to ensure ORT and RTR television-channel broadcasts in Armenia, and we have discussed this issue with the President of Armenia. This is mostly an economic issue. Russia will try and settle it as soon as possible. We know that Armenians want to watch Russian TV channels, and I must admit that this problem is mostly Russia’s fault.
I believe that we have never had any problems guaranteeing the rights of our compatriots in Armenia and Russia, nor will we ever experience such problems.
Thank you very much.