President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Sargsyan, ladies and gentlemen,
As is tradition, my talks with the President of Armenia were constructive and business-like. We discussed key aspects of our bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on the international and regional agendas.
We held talks with the heads of ministries and agencies, and with business community members, during which we discussed in detail the current state and development prospects of our multifaceted bilateral cooperation.
I would like to note that President Sargsyan’s visit to Moscow is taking place at an important time in Armenia’s political life. The country is completing constitutional reform that will establish a parliamentary republic, and is soon to hold a parliamentary election. I know that the Armenian authorities and you personally, Mr Sargsyan, are making great efforts to ensure that the election campaign, voting, and the vote counting process will be free and democratic. I wish you every success in this. Russia genuinely desires a stable, independent and dynamically developing Armenia.
Our countries’ relations are those of genuine allies. Soon, on April 3, we will mark an important date – the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Russia and Armenia sincerely seek to strengthen their mutually advantageous cooperation and all-round strategic partnership.
We have an intensive political dialogue. Our governments have active contacts and work together, as do our foreign ministries and security councils. Our government ministries have also established close working ties, and our parliamentary exchanges are expanding.
Our countries’ relations are those of genuine allies. Russia and Armenia sincerely seek to strengthen their mutually advantageous cooperation and all-round strategic partnership.
Russia is Armenia’s leading economic partner. Our bilateral trade increased by 6 percent last year. We think this is a real success, given the unstable global economic situation. We are now examining the possibility for carrying out mutual settlements in national currency in order to continue expanding and diversifying our trade.
Russian investment in Armenia’s economy comes to more than $3 billion. Around 2000 companies with Russian capital are operating in Armenia today. Our energy sector cooperation is developing fast. Russia is the biggest supplier of natural gas to Armenia, providing 100 percent of Armenia’s gas. Gazprom helped to rebuild the fifth power unit at the Razdan thermal electric power station and brought its capacity up to 480 megawatt. Rosatom is modernising Armenia’s nuclear power station.
Our cooperation in the mining sector is developing with success. Russian company Polimetall is developing gold fields in Armenia, and RUSAL has invested $120 million in a joint aluminium production venture.
Russia is helping to develop Armenia’s transport infrastructure. Russian Railways is carrying out a large-scale programme to modernise the rail network, with investment of $500 million.
Armenia’s regions have established solid partnership ties with more than 70 Russian regions. The fifth Russian-Armenian Interregional Forum took place in Yerevan last October. We hope that bilateral ties will get a boost from the interregional cooperation programme that was signed on January 24 and runs from 2016 through 2021.
Contacts between people and cultural, scientific and education ties are particularly important for our countries. Around 5,500 Armenian citizens are studying at Russian universities, more than 1,500 of them at the Russian government’s expense. Last year, as part of our cultural and humanitarian cooperation, the two countries successfully held reciprocal days of culture.
We noted our common or similar positions in our exchange of views on current international and regional issues. Our countries seek to coordinate their action in the UN. We cooperate with success in advancing the integration process within the Eurasian Economic Union and the CIS, and are developing our constructive cooperation within the CSTO. We are grateful to our Armenian friends for their cooperation in this very important area. In October 2016, and in February this year, Russian air force planes delivered humanitarian aid from Armenia to Syria.
Russia is Armenia’s leading economic partner. We are now examining the possibility for carrying out mutual settlements in national currency in order to continue expanding and diversifying our trade.
We discussed the situation with Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia continues to do all it can to facilitate mutually acceptable solutions to the conflict both within the Minsk Group in the OSCE, and in direct contacts with Yerevan and Baku.
In conclusion, I would like to thank our colleagues and Mr Sargsyan personally for today’s substantive and fruitful dialogue. I am sure that the agreements reached will help us to continue deepening the strategic partnership between our two countries.
Thank you for your attention.
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan: Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen,
Mr Putin has given a detailed account of our meeting and its results. I would like to say a few words on the following matters. The talks were indeed constructive and very substantive. As always, they took place in an atmosphere of complete mutual understanding that characterizes our partnership’s spirit of alliance.
Each of our meetings is a good chance to analyse and discuss the implementation of our agreements and joint projects and to outline new cooperation plans between our countries.
This year is an anniversary year for our relations; we are marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. Today, we made a detailed review of the road our countries have travelled over the last 25 years.
Bilateral cooperation between Armenia and Russia has become more dynamic and gained more depth of substance over these last years. Mr Putin and I noted that continued joint efforts to deepen our strategic cooperation are in the interests of our fraternal peoples.
Following discussions on the full range of bilateral matters, we affirmed our readiness to continue efforts to deepen cooperation in security, foreign policy, military-technical matters, trade and the economy, and the humanitarian sphere, in accordance with our Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, and on the Declaration on Alliance Cooperation between Armenia and Russia, which looks to the future.
In this context, I would like to note the importance of the signing of the intergovernmental agreement on the combined armed forces’ group our countries have established, and the coming into effect of the agreement on the unified regional air defence system in the Caucasus collective security region. These documents will undoubtedly help to strengthen security in the South Caucasus.
We discussed the full range of our trade and economic relations, with particular focus on such areas as trade, investment, energy and transport. Russia is Armenia’s biggest trade partner. In 2016, trade between our countries increased by 15 percent by our estimates. Furthermore, in January this year, we registered a very significant increase compared to the figures for the same period last year.
This is evidence of the serious potential that we could make use of, including through the Eurasian Economic Union, in the interests of our businesspeople and citizens. Armenia, as an active member of the Eurasian Economic Union seeks to deepen cooperation within this organisation and facilitate the full functioning of its structures and mechanisms without artificial barriers. We also want to increase the organisation’s international authority. Total Russian investment in Armenian economy’s real sector now comes to more than $4.5 billion. Russian business is present in all sectors of the Armenian economy, with more than 1,400 companies, more than 2000 if we take individual entrepreneurs into account. Nuclear energy, science and advanced technology are all sectors that enrich the spectrum of our traditional bilateral relations.
We are ready to give due attention to developing several projects in the transport and logistics services sector. Taking into account Armenia’s geographical location and membership in the EAEU, we see great potential in developing transit via Armenia to Iran and the Persian Gulf.
Interregional cooperation is one of the most important areas of our interaction. We are firmly set on encouraging and supporting our countries’ regions in their desire to develop direct trade, economic and humanitarian ties.
We examined our foreign policy coordination within the UN, OSCE, EAEU, CSTO and other international organisations, and looked at several aspects of the Eurasian Economic Union’s work, including prospects for developing mutually advantageous ties with other countries and international organisations. We noted the need for consistent work to make the CSTO more effective and to ensure observation of the norms and principles of the organisation’s basic documents and the obligations we have taken on. We also discussed key international regional issues such as fighting terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, and the Syrian crisis. Let me take this opportunity to thank Russia for its help in transporting Armenian humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.
We discussed in detail security in the region, particularly the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process and creating the conditions necessary for the negotiating process to move forward. We highly value the contribution of Russia and the other OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to resolving the problem through exclusively peaceful means. We once again underscored the importance of respecting the tripartite permanent ceasefire agreements of 1994–1995 and the need to implement the agreements reached in Vienna and St Petersburg. We share the view that the threat of force or its use are completely unacceptable and would deal a blow to the peace process.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will make every effort to continue developing our alliance and partnership in the interests of our countries’ progress and our peoples’ friendship. I am certain that the agreements reached today will help to strengthen our countries’ cooperation in all areas in a spirit of friendship and mutual support.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Putin once more. Thank you, and thank you to our Russian friends for the hospitality and for the productive and constructive talks. I particularly thank you for returning to Armenia the work by the great artist Vrubel, Demon and Angel with Tamara’s Soul, which was stolen from Armenia in 1995. Thanks to the Russian authorities’ efforts, this painting was found and Mr Putin spoke today of Russia’s intention to return this painting to Armenia.
Thank you very much, Mr President.