Official visit of President Serzh Sargsyan to the Republic of Lebanon
On 26 November, President Serzh Sargsyan has arrived to the Republic of Lebanon of the official visit
At the residence of the President of Lebanon, after the official ceremony of welcoming the President of Armenia, Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Michel Suleiman conducted private negotiations which were followed by the negotiations in the extended format with the participation of the delegations of the two states.
After the negotiations, there took place the ceremony of signing official documents. In particular, signed were Agreements on the “Visa free regime for the holders of diplomatic and service passports” and “Mutual recognition of the higher education and academic titles.”
After the ceremony of document signing, President Serzh Sargsyan planted a tree in the Presidential Garden as a token of the Armenian-Lebanese friendship.
At the Presidential residence, the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and the President of the Republic of Lebanon Michel Suleiman recapped the results of the negotiations at the joint press conference.
In the framework of his visit, on 26 November President Serzh Sargsyan met with the Prime Minister of Lebanon Najib Mikati. Before that, Serzh Sargsyan visited the Martyrs Square in Beirut, paid tribute, and laid a wreath at the monument.
At the meeting with the Prime Minister of Lebanon Najib Mikati stressed the importance of the economic component of the bilateral cooperation, noting that the turnover between the two countries is still inadequate.
President Sargsyan and Prime Minister Najib Mikati underscored the importance of giving a new impetus to the works of the Armenian-Lebanese intergovernmental economic commission which, according to the parties, can seriously boost the improvement of the turnover indices, encourage investments, and establish a closer cooperation between the business circles of the two countries. From the viewpoint of boosting the bilateral cooperation, the parties among perspective areas mentioned in particular agriculture, tourism, and high-tech. At the meeting, discussed was also the idea of establishing a Joint Trade and Industrial Chamber.
In honor of President Serzh Sargsyan and Mrs. Rita Sargsyan, who are in the Republic of Lebanon of the official visit, the President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman last night gave an official dinner.
In his toast addressed to the President of Lebanon, his spouse, the President of the National Assembly, Prime Minister and all those present at the official dinner, Serzh Sargsyan expressed gratitude for the warm welcome on the hospitable soil of Lebanon - the country which is so dear to the hearts of the Armenians.
President Serzh Sargsyan spoke of the past of the two ancient, friendly nations, high-level political dialogue existing now between the reliable partners – Armenia and Lebanon, as well as about the desire and readiness to further deepen and develop interstate multifaceted relations. The President of Armenia wished Lebanon and its people peace, prosperity and unwavering national unity.
“Relations of our two peoples come from the time immemorial, while Armenian presence in Lebanon is centuries-long. I believe it is not accidental that two hundred fifty years ago the first Armenian Catholic Catholicos, who was officially recognized by the Pope, established his residence here, in Lebanon. Armenians have brought their indispensable participation to the deliberation of Lebanon from the Ottoman Empire. During the World War I, the last leader of the autonomous Mount Lebanon was an ethnic Armenian, Ohannes Pasha Kuyumjian who was fighting to save the population of the region from the oppressions of the Young Turks. After his toppling and the autonomy's destruction, the Ottoman Empire launched a series of massacres in Lebanon.
It is my deepest conviction that the Armenian and Lebanese peoples are more than just friends. At the most difficult times in the history of the Armenian nation, Lebanon became a beacon of salvation for the thousands of Armenians who had been deprived of their homeland. How else, if not brotherly, can one describe our current relations?
Peaceful and creative existence of the Armenian diaspora of many thousands is the best proof of it. And naturally I am proud for my compatriots present in this hall. I am grateful to you, dear compatriots, for making us so recognizable, for upholding our prestige here, in Lebanon as well. It was here, in Lebanon that some of the largest Armenian spiritual, cultural and educational centers were formed, which play an important role in the preservation of the Armenian national identity in Spyurk. The Great House of Cilicia, Armenian Catholic Patriarchate, the only Armenian university abroad – Haykazyan Universy and a large number of the Armenian spiritual, cultural and other values preserved and cherished in this land for centuries bond forever us and histories of our peoples,” President Serzh Sargyan said.
On 27 November President Serzh Sargsyan visited Antelias and met with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.
Before the meeting, President Sargsyan and Mrs. Rita Sargsyan accompanied by Catholicos visited the Saint Grigor Illuminator Cathedral and the Chapel built next to the Cathedral and dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
In Antelias, at the reception organized with the participation of the heads of the community structures, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia bestowed the highest honor of the Catholicate, the Cross of Cilicia upon the President of Armenia.
Serzh Sargsyan expressed gratitude for the order and such a great honor. In his address, speaking about the “Armenia is strong with Spyurk and Spyurk is strong with Armenia” dictum, the President of Armenia reiterated that it is not only a dictum but a lifestyle. According to the President, we all have to make great efforts to make that motto true. Serzh Sargsyan hailed devotion of the Armenian-Lebanese community and Catholicate of the Great House of Cilicia to our national aspirations proved by concrete work.
The President of Armenia noted that the Catholicate of the Great House of Cilicia has been not only a spiritual center but a potent source for the preservation of the Armenian identity, whose life-giving force is felt by the entire Armenian nation. President Sargsyan praised also the activities of the entire spiritual corps of the Catholicate under the leadership of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. “We are always ready to assist and stand by you and, of course, to work with delight under your prayers.
Let God save and protect Armenian Holy Apostolic Church, Armenian world and Catholicate of the Great House of Cilicia together with its devoted patriarch,” President Serzh Sargsyan said.
President Serzh Sargsyan on 27 November visited the Haykazian University where he met with the faculty and students of international studies of four leading universities of Lebanon – Haykazian, American University of Beirut, American University of Lebanon and Saint Joseph University. The President made a statement and answered questions of the students.
“To be hosted in the only Armenian university outside Armenia and make a statement is a particular feeling – warm and compelling. The very fact that the only higher education institution in Spyurk is located in Lebanon, testifies to the exceptional friendship of Armenia and Lebanon. It is pleasing that being a university outside Armenia, Haykazian seminary has become an educational center not only for us, Armenians but for the representatives of all nations and confessions which is a vivid evidence of the devotion of the founders of the University to the universal human values. It is particularly pleasing that present at this beautiful hall of the Haykazian seminary in Beirut are also professors and students from the leading universities of Lebanon - American University of Beirut, American University of Lebanon and Saint Joseph University,” President Serzh Sargsyan said.
At the meeting with the faculty and students, the President of Armenia spoke about the mission of the Armenian and Lebanese youth to carry on with the inherited traditions of the Armenian-Lebanese friendship, making it even stronger, invigorating contacts. He spoke about the priorities on Armenia’s foreign policy agenda, including the NK peace process, Armenia’s position on regional problems and challenges, current stage of the Armenian-Turkish relations, complex situation in the Middle East and its resolution.
Serzh Sargsyan presented also to the participants of the meeting Armenia’s economic development, introduced reforms, and programs implemented in a number of prospective areas.
Speaking about the centuries-long Armenian-Lebanese relations, which since Armenia’s independence twenty years ago have been highlighted by all political forces of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan underscored that the Armenians and Lebanese have been and remain those peoples of the region which have obtained the world’s respect and admiration not through bellicose spirit or animosity but through peace, vitality and diligence.
“The world-spread Armenian nation is eternally grateful to its Arab brothers, peoples of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iraq, who didn’t tolerate a crime against humanity and gave shelter to the Armenian refugees who had narrowly escaped bloodbath perpetrated by the Ottoman authorities.
Another proof of sincerity and durability of our friendship is the principled position of the authorities, Parliament, and people of Lebanon. Today, Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East whose legislative body has adopted two resolutions condemning the Armenian Genocide,” President Serzh Sargsyan said.
In his statement, President Sargsyan underlined that the authorities of Armenia are hopeful that very soon peace will come to the Arab world and people will have the opportunity to take the road of sustainable development. According to the President, Armenia supports peaceful implementation of the changes, without losses and terror.
Noting that security of the South Caucasus and Middle East are tightly interconnected, President Sargsyan told the students, “The people of Nagorno Karabakh never submitted and constantly rose up against the illegal decision of the Soviet authorities of forced attachment to Azerbaijan. After the collapse of the USSR, the attempts of the Azeri authorities to crash with brutal force the will of people of Artsakh to live free met the adequate response. Negotiations have been going on for almost two decades now; however til now we don’t have a peace agreement because of one reason – Azerbaijan is not ready to the solution based on the concessions, while petrodollars have turned their heads and created fantasies on the possibility of the military solution of the problem.
For years, the Azerbaijani authorities have been enticing the arms race, rejecting any confidence building measure, trying to constantly maintain tension on the line of contact, rejecting cooperation and any offer of a dialogue, wasting millions in the process. This is a real threat, which further exacerbates already explosive situation in the region, dispelling opportunities of dialogue and peace.”
Serzh Sargsyan underscored that regardless of all mentioned above, Armenia is committed to the peaceful resolution of the issue, since we do realize that a war would be a disaster not only for the nations involved but also for the entire region and with this regard we hail Lebanon’s balanced position on the NK conflict.
The President spoke also about the process of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, about the approaching 100th anniversary of the Genocide and said that crimes perpetrated against our people are still to get their due assessment. The civilized world, according to Serzh Sargsyan, has yet to have its say on this matter.
Stressing that conflicts and confrontations undermine stability in our region, hinder peaceful coexistence, natural development and prospects of prosperous life, the President of Armenia noted that Armenia is doing its best to secure safe and protected future for its generations, believing that sustainable development is achievable through education and peaceful coexistence.
President Serzh Sargsyan on 27 November had a meeting with the President of the National Assembly of Lebanon Nabih Berri. Later, the meeting with the President of Armenia continued in the extended format with the participation of the members of the parliament.
The parties stressed the importance of the interparliamentary ties in the development of the interstate relations, strengthening of mutual trust, active cooperation between the parliaments of the two countries, which, according to the parties, will promote also the Armenian-Lebanese economic relations.
At the meeting stressed was also the importance of cooperation of the parliamentarians in the international structures.
President Serzh Sargsyan and President of the National Assembly of Lebanon Nabih Berri highlighted the necessity of the coordinated and planned work of all state structures and parliaments of Armenia and Lebanon for raising the relations of the two countries to a qualitatively new level.
The interlocutors spoke also about tense situation in some Middle East countries and discussed possibilities of the resolution of that tension.
Serzh Sargsyan presented to Nabin Berri challenges and problems existing in our region, including the latest developments in the NK peace process.
At the meeting with the President and members of the Lebanese Parliament, President Sargsyan made a statement.
On the second day of his official visit to Lebanon, on November 27, Serzh Sargsyan met also with the President of Armenian Evangelistic Churches in the Middle East, Rev Mkrtich Karagyozian, visited the Armenian spiritual and cultural complex in Zmmara and met with the Armenian Catholic Patriarch, His Eminence Ter Nerses Petros XIX. In Zmmara, President Sargsyan participated in the official opening ceremony of the cultural center and renovated section of matenadaran dedicated to the 500th anniversary of publishing the Urbatagirq – the first Armenian printed book and visited the exhibition of manuscripts and ancient books.
“Throughout its millennia-long history, the Armenian nation had pages full of glorious victories, enlightenment, cultural rebirth, and struggle for physical existence. There can be no doubt that the struggle for existence is a heroic mission. However, one is overwhelmed with pride when one realizes that Armenians have been able to create bounty and values everywhere they went. Etchmiadzin or Saint Lazarus Island in Venice, Jerusalem or Vienna, or here in this charming corner of Lebanon, Armenians have always manifested their undying resilience,” President Sargsyan said at the opening of the cultural center in Zmmara.
According to the President of Armenia, the collection of the Armenian manuscripts in Zmmara speaks volumes about our past, our history and our ancient cultural heritage. “The Zmmara congregation, Matenadaran and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs have come up with a commendable initiative to study these manuscripts, to clean the dust of ages, to bring out the fruits of our nation’s thought and spread light on the pages of our past. We will continue to support this initiative on the state level so that this enormous material is examined, and comes to serve not only the Armenian people but also the entire mankind,” President Sargsyan said.
Last night in Beirut, President Serzh Sargsyan met with the representatives of the Armenian community of Lebanon.
In his address, the President noted that he is constantly proud of the strong, viable and creative Armenian community of Lebanon and each time visits Lebanon with pleasure and warm anticipation, and meets gladly with our compatriots living here.
According to Serzh Sargsyan, the Armenian-Lebanese friendship is based on the important principle – respect of the Armenians of Lebanon for the State of Lebanon and respect of the State of Lebanon for the Armenians.
The President of Armenia noted that he is proud that there are ethnic Armenian members of the Parliament and Ministers in the Lebanese Government and called upon them to be united and work together.
“The Armenian Diaspora of Lebanon has been and remains a spiritual, national-political center of Spyurk, a vein nourishing the illuminating mind of the Armenians.
Your community rightly possesses glorious history. We are grateful to all those devotees whose tireless work and persistent efforts have ensured preservation, development and functioning of many Armenian organizations, cultural and spiritual structures, churches and educational centers, youth, benevolent and women’s unions, centers of the Armenian studies.
You are rice – rich in spirit and culture, rich with human potential. In this community, three of the Armenian Church congregations - Catholicate of the Great House of Cilicia, Armenian Patriarchate and Armenian Evangelical Church are acting side by side. Thank you, spiritual Fathers, for conducting in each of your religious communities work dedicated to the nation and preservation of our nation, for promoting national and cultural life of the community, sowing love and devotion for the Armenian nation, Motherland and the Armenian state,” President Sargsyan said.
Addressing spiritual leaders, public figures, teachers and artists present at the meeting, President Serzh Sargsyan expressed gratitude to them for raising far away from the Motherland, under the ongoing economic crisis, the Armenian speaking, Armenia loving and Armenian nation loving generation, a generation whose destiny is tied unbreakably to the destiny of our nation.
The President of Armenia assessed as commendable attitude of the Armenians of Lebanon and Armenian organizations of Lebanon which views the salvation of the Syrian Armenians as a national issue, as well as their position and care for our compatriots from Syria who have settled in Lebanon. Serzh Sargsyan stressed one more time that the Republic of Armenia stands by every Syrian Armenian – in Syria as well as in Armenia.
At the meeting with the Armenian community of Lebanon, President Sargsyan spoke also about great potential of the community, the full and efficient use of which will allow to attain new success in the development of the Armenian-Lebanese relations, recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide and resolution of other all-Armenian issues.
Serzh Sargsyan underscored that the Armenians of Lebanon stood by Armenia’s side through the difficult moments in the twenty-one year old history of independent Armenia. Artsakh’s fight for freedom, earthquake, hard times of calamities - they stood by and supported Armenia and Artsakh, assisted in the formation of our state, and helped in the economic and political development of the Motherland.
“I should mention with pleasure that the Armenians of Lebanon started to show a greater interest in and trust towards Armenia which is proved by the number of the applications for receiving the RA citizenship. In 2010, just over 200 Armenians from Lebanon received Armenian citizenship, while in 2011 that number multiplied by ten and the tendency continues today as well. Of course, receiving the citizenship of Armenia doesn’t directly translate into the establishment of residence in Armenia: the Armenian passport is a legal bond with the state. Passport endows with rights as well as obligations.
I believe you would agree that there is hardly a country in the world which exists free of problems. They exist in Armenia too. However our achievements are not scarce. It is true that today Armenia still needs you; however we are also able to assist and support you. Sustainable and upward development of our beloved country is irreversible. All achievements of our independent statehood are also the results of the ten-million strong Armenian nation’s toiling, fighting, investing, and efforts. Today, the Motherland-Spyurk interaction has acquired a new content and strategic importance,” President Sargsyan said.
Serzh Sargsyan spoke with the representatives of the Armenian community of Lebanon about important issues of Armenia’s internal and foreign agendas, and presented the forthcoming programs.
“We must be able to move in step with the time and create today the Armenia-dedicated future for our generations, the joint future of the Motherland and Spyurk. We must be guided not by the “why me?” but rather by “who, if not me?” motto,” President Serzh Sargsyan said in the conclusion of his meeting with the Armenian community of Lebanon.
President Serzh Sargsyan concluded his official visit to the Republic of Lebanon. On 28 November, at the Presidential Residence there took place the official ceremony of farewell for the President of Armenia.
Before the ceremony, President Sargsyan and President Suleiman during the tête-a-tête meeting summarized the results of the visit. The leaders of the two states stressed the importance of high-level reciprocal visits, spoke with satisfaction about the negotiations which took place in the framework of the Armenian President’s official visit and reached agreements which, according to the Presidents of Armenia and Lebanon, will give a boost to the development of the Armenian-Lebanese relations in all areas and will further strengthen friendship of the two nations.