President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Welcome, Mr President. Spring is slowly coming to Russia. It's a little warmer today, but it was still freezing yesterday. I hope that you've brought at least a bit of spring with you.
You and I have set up a regular, constructive and friendly exchange. Last year we met six times – I looked it up – and this year we have already met twice. But these are difficult times so we have to meet more often, which in turn should make it easier to solve problems as they come up. I hope that we will be able to discuss our bilateral and economic relations, relations in the cultural and educational spheres and of course regional issues. Obviously we will discuss a settlement for Nagorno Karabakh, make our way through the entire agenda, and if the weather permits go for a walk. That is part of the tradition we have set up. We invite our closest partners here, and I welcome you most cordially to Zavidovo.
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan: Thank you. I am glad to be here.
In fact, by my count you, the President of Russia, and I, the President of Armenia, have met 15 times.
Dmitry Medvedev: In other formats, yes. I was thinking of our bilateral encounters.
Serzh Sargsyan: Yes, in other formats. I think it's worthwhile, because we have a lot of things to discuss. Of course part of our agenda involves military cooperation in both the political and the technical sense. We are following closely the attempt to create a new European security architecture, for us this is very important. Of course regional security issues are important as well. I am grateful to Russia and you personally, Mr President, for the important contribution you have made to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh issue. I was pleased to note that after the President of Azerbaijan's working visit your position remains unchanged, that as always you believe that this conflict should be resolved on the basis of all the principles of international law, and I would emphasise “all.”
I will say very openly and frankly that we are also glad that now in the south Caucasus another country that firmly calls Russia its strategic partner has appeared. This means that Russia’s role and resources in solving the [Nagorno] Karabakh problem have increased.
Our economic relations are developing successfully. Investment in Armenia now totals over 2.5 billion dollars. I want to cite just two examples of the real interests of Russian companies in those programmes that we are now promoting with great success: the construction of a new nuclear power plant with 1,200 MW capacity and development of uranium mines. In the next three to four years, this will put the amount of investment over 5 billion. On 1 April there were 1,250 companies operating with Russian capital in Armenia.
Dmitry Medvedev: Joint companies.
Serzh Sargsyan: We have to admit that the impact of the global crisis has been devastating, yet trade between our countries in 2008 amounted to 1,066 billion dollars. That is a lot for Armenia.
We have achieved a great deal in the cultural and educational spheres. Just yesterday I attended the annual meeting of the Armenian Academy of Sciences. Along with conducting other business, we awarded diplomas to foreign members of the Armenian Academy, and 42 of those went to Russians. This is more than half of all foreign members of the Academy. I think it is a very solid basis for cooperation. In Yerevan, the Armenian-Russian State University, the Slavic University as we call it, has been a great success and now has more than 3,000 students. This year Russian became a compulsory subject for all educational institutions in Armenia.
Today Rostov hosts a conference called “Russia and the Armenians: the Prospects for Cooperation”, to mark the 230th anniversary of the emigration of Armenians from the Crimea and the founding of the city of Novy Nakhichevan [New Nakhichevan] (now the Proletarsky district of Rostov-on-Don).
Our Russian playbill is very impressive. In just the past year Russian masters of the theatre, stage, music and literature — Rodion Shchedrin, Maya Plisetskaya, Oleg Tabakov, the Moscow Virtuosi orchestra, the Armen Djigarkhanyan Theatre, the Pyotr Fomenko Theatre, and the Kremlin Ballet – have all visited Armenia. And just the other day at its Easter Festival Yerevan welcomed the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiyev. Did you know that Valery Gergiyev began his distinguished career in Yerevan in the early 1980s? And the day after tomorrow in Yerevan the premier of Spartacus ballet by Aram Khachaturian choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich and staged under the patronage of the first ladies of Russia and Armenia, will take place.
And on it goes: I recently gave a news conference at which I said that any country should be proud to have a partner like Russia.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you.
Serzh Sargsyan: And of course we are proud to have such a partner. That is why I am glad to have this meeting. And I should add that all these activities in the cultural and educational spheres have enjoyed the financial support of patrons, both Armenians and Russians. This shows our spiritual closeness.
Thank you for the invitation. Thank you for the warm and cordial welcome.
Dmitry Medvedev: That is a very eloquent and compelling account of how we have been cooperating. First, it really shows that we are strategic partners in every respect: in the economic sphere, the military sphere and in the field of cultural cooperation. But I want to recall our success in another area, inter-regional contacts. According to my sources, Kaliningrad is in the process of preparing a very important event. The governor of Kaliningrad wants to invite you to the opening of the centre. So this is yet another contribution to the development of our relations.