Interviews and press conferences
The joint press conference of President Serzh Sargsyan and President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev

12.02.2018

Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan for mass media after meeting with President Rumen Radev of the Republic of Bulgaria

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I once again welcome Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and the members of his delegation to Yerevan. This is your first visit to the Republic of Armenia, I am sure that it will go a long way toward boosting bilateral interstate relations and giving fresh impetus to our cooperation based on strong historical-cultural ties.

I wish to state with satisfaction that the talks with President Radev went off in a warm atmosphere. We had a substantive discussion on our bilateral cooperation agenda and touched upon a number of international issues of mutual interest.

We reaffirmed our mutual commitment to strengthening relations and agreed to make additional efforts to step up bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Armenia and Bulgaria as evidenced by the documents signed today between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Bulgaria that will complement the legal-contractual framework which features over 50 agreements.

I certainly took the opportunity to congratulate my counterpart on Bulgaria’s assuming the presidency of the EU Council and wish them fruitful work.

The European Union is one of Armenia’s most important partners, so this is another direction where there are great prospects for deepening the Armenian-Bulgarian cooperation. I expressed the hope that along with other issues, Bulgaria’s chairmanship in the EU Council will promote the ongoing visa liberalization dialogue with Armenia.

We hailed our countries’ close cooperation on the international platforms, which is especially manifested in the mutual support with UN structures. We are keen to enhance our multilateral cooperation in the same spirit.

Of course, we discussed economic issues as well. We were pleased to state that the bilateral trade turnover has recorded tangible growth in recent years. At the same time, I should note that the potential is much greater, and we must work in agriculture, tourism and in many other spheres with a view to implementing new initiatives, including in the field of communications.
We also noted with satisfaction Bulgarian business circles’ increased interest in our country’s economic opportunities. I mean Armenia’s membership of EAEU, the new EU-Armenia partnership framework, and the opportunities available in the free economic zones being set up in the country. We both mentioned the importance of enhancing cultural ties and promoting human contacts.

I consider it our moral duty to foster and strengthen the centuries-old friendship between the Armenian and Bulgarian peoples. By the way, Mr. Radev, I am happy for your willingness to visit the TUMO creative center. I am hopeful that your visit will be impressive and will give birth to new ideas of cooperation.

Indeed, we touched upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In this regard, I highlighted our partners’ support of the process underway in the OSCE Minsk Group format, which is in line with the general position of the European Union.

It is important that the RA-EU framework agreement stipulates EU’s full support of Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ efforts and the proposed principles of settlement.

Mr. President, I would certainly call our meeting productive. We will have the opportunity to speak about the development of our relations over the course of the day, as well as tomorrow. I do hope that the Armenian-Bulgarian political dialogue and the ongoing multifaceted cooperation will be further enhanced and developed thanks to already established preconditions.

Also, I reaffirmed my invitation for my counterpart to take part in the Armenia-hosted Francophonie Summit this fall and, respectively, I accepted with great pleasure Mr. President’s invitation to visit friendly Bulgaria.


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Statement by Bulgarian President Rumen Radev for mass media outlets after meeting with President Serzh Sargsyan

Dear Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I want to thank you on behalf of our delegation for your invitation to visit your wonderful country, as well as for the warm welcome.

I want to emphasize that the relations between our two countries are not merely traditional; they are first of all friendly, because our two nations have deeply rooted historical and cultural ties, sympathy and mutual respect, as well as commonality of fate.

The purpose of my visit is not only to activate our contacts at the highest political level, but also to discuss the development of cooperation in all areas of interest.

It is important for us to have some progress in a number of areas. My delegation features many representatives from both the business community and Parliament.

Our peoples look forward to building closer and more effective ties of cooperation. We are bound by duty to do so, and we are here today to develop partnerships.

Together with President Sargsyan we discussed bilateral relations, expressed satisfaction with the stability of our economic relations over the past ten years, but at the same time, we consider that the commodity turnover is still far from being satisfactory. We can upgrade it to encompass ever new areas of cooperation.
I am pleased to note that we started working early this morning: small and medium-sized businesses and employers are already working together and, as far as I can understand, they have reached an agreement to hold a major business forum in Burgas this June, involving businessmen from both countries. During the visit, a memorandum will be signed between the employers of the two countries, which can be described as a major breakthrough.

Together with the President of Armenia, we concurred in that our countries are of strategic importance and, therefore, we need to make a better use of it; we should avail ourselves of the Gulf Coast-Black Sea corridor to develop our relationship. In this regard, I welcome Mr. Sargsyan’s idea to organize a meeting of transport ministers of all concerned countries. In other words, the logistical opportunities we have in the field of transport and other areas must be used to develop economic intercourse.

I appreciate the signing of agreements, especially the labor migration arrangement signed by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. The other agreements are very important, too, including the documents on cultural cooperation and confidential information, which imply a new level of relationship and overhaul.

We welcome the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement signed by Armenia with the EU because it may open up a great opportunity to develop economic relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between our two economies.

We also talked about the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, which is important not only for Armenia, but also for the entire region.

I wish to remind that Bulgaria has declared the question of Western Balkans to be one of its key priorities during its EU presidency. But our country is likewise committed to implementing the Eastern Partnership Program, as well as developing the Black Sea region and the Caucasus.

I want to note that we have very good relationships in education and culture. What we have discussed today with you, Mr. President, may give new impetus to those relationships.

Finally, I would like to remind that the Armenian community has not only preserved its national identity in Bulgaria, but has integrated harmoniously with the Bulgarian society, being represented in our country’s cultural and scientific life. They are a living bridge between our two nations, which has to be strengthened.

Thanking you once again for a warm reception, I deeply believe that this visit will give new impetus to bilateral relations and will be mutually beneficial

Thank you.

***

RA President Serzh Sargsyan, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev answer media representatives’ questions during joint press conference

Bulgarian National Radio, Miroslava Štefanova - Mr. Radev, which are the areas where Bulgaria and Armenia can deepen their relationships to reflect on the growth of commodity turnover, the development of economic relations and, in general, the positive impact on the economy.

President Rumen Radev - First of all, let me say that this is our communication. We need to develop our transport links so that we can provide business people, tourists and citizens the possibility of communicating smoothly and extensively. Together with Mr. Sargsyan, we attached great importance to any means of communication - transport, energy, and so on. That is why we prioritize the Persian Gulf-Black Sea Corridor.

The biggest problem is the lack of direct flights, but as we all know, we do not have a national carrier, and we have to hope that favorable conditions will be created for private airlines so that direct flights could be launched.

We made a point of our cooperation within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, as the regional stability will enable economic development, beneficial for both Armenia and Bulgaria.

Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union and, at the same time, it has signed a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the EU, which can bring economic benefits to Bulgaria.

Traditionally, the development of cultural and educational cooperation has been deemed as very important.

Let me add that we also talked about our cooperation in security matters, which is very important considering that Armenia is an active participant of the Partnership for Peace program and attends the joint exercises. We can be of service to each other: for instance, the Armenian side can attend our military drills, and vice versa.

Maya Khachatryan, Public Television of Armenia – I have questions addressed to both Armenian and Bulgarian Presidents.

Mr. President, some experts attribute the rescheduling of Azerbaijani’s presidential election for April to the country’s wish to speed up the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process. In your opinion, what are the motives for this decision?

Mr. Radev, may I ask you to comment on the fact that Azerbaijani media often misinterpret and misrepresent other countries’ approaches to the Karabakh issue, including Bulgaria. Please give us your country’s stance on this issue. Does it coincide with the EU’s position? Thank you.

President Serzh Sargsyan - I think that only Azerbaijan’s President and a few individuals are aware of the real motives behind the decision to hold the presidential election earlier than scheduled and, therefore, I would refrain from making any comments whatsoever. But I do not think that your suggestion is realistic, since I do not believe that Azerbaijan could suddenly have an irresistible desire to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.

Over the past few years, Azerbaijan has had many opportunities to give a peaceful solution to the problem, but, unfortunately, their actions have led to the fact that now we can talk about lost opportunities.

Regardless of whether the presidential or parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan are extraordinary or regular, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem can only be resolved if Azerbaijan gives up its maximalist, unrealistic expectations from the talks. Unless they do so; if they continue to stay in the dreams and rave about Yerevan or Zangezur, we cannot hope that the problem may be solved.

I have repeatedly stated that Armenia is ready to intensify negotiations under the recommendations of the OSCE Minsk Group in a bid to ease the tensions and achieve a solution to the problem. But, unfortunately, what we say is still desires.

As regards the position of the Republic of Bulgaria, I would like to thank President Radev for Bulgaria’s balanced position.

Bulgaria has always supported the position of the European Union in all instances and has always been for the peaceful settlement of the problem along the lines of a common policy. I understand why you asked the question. I think the reason is that last fall, as Mr. President was in Azerbaijan, the President of Azerbaijan allegedly thanked him for Bulgaria’s stance, but I realize that it was just a provocation.

In fact, it was a provocation, but we should not yield to such provocations. We trust our friends and know their true position. I fully understand the circumstance that during Azerbaijani President’s visit a statement was issued, which referred to just one principle. These are temporary phenomena, and do not reflect the State’s actual position.

Any official in any country can make different joint statements with any official of Azerbaijan, but we have to see who has constitutional powers to state the country’s position or who can treat the matter officially. But we have a great achievement on this issue: a document was signed with the EU on November 24, 2017, which sets forth clear-cut formulations and the vision of the settlement.

The EU-member States will ratify this agreement, which means that the document will be binding for them along with the relevant consequences. Thank you:

President Rumen Radev - Bulgaria has always had a very clear position on the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict: the conflict cannot be resolved but peacefully through the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group, i.e., with the help of Russia, France and the United States, as well as with the EU support and, what matters most, through active dialogue between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

A dialogue that we think should be less based on emotions, and more often on discretion. As the EU Council chair country, Bulgaria will support this position.

 

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