State visit of President Serzh Sargsyan to the Republic of Singapore
President Serzh Sargsyan has arrived on a three day state visit to the Republic of Singapore.
Today, the President of Armenia met with the highest leadership of Singapore – President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and participated at the dinner given by the Business Federation of Singapore in honor of the President of Armenia which was also attended by the leading businessmen and heads of the most powerful corporations.
The Presidents of Singapore and Armenia discussed issues pertinent to the development of cooperation in different areas, possible steps aimed at the invigoration of the Armenian-Singaporean political dialogue. According to the President of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam, although the two countries established relations twenty years ago, the Armenian-Singaporean relations have been existing for over 150 years: Armenians in Singapore published first newspaper and established the first Christian church. In Serzh Sargsyan’s words, as a rapidly developing successful state Singapore is a good example for other countries, including Armenia. The two Presidents expressed desire that this year, when the two states celebrate a jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations, would become also a year of strengthening and expanding the Armenian-Singaporean cooperation. They spoke about cooperation in the areas of education, science, civil service and introduction of the Singaporean experience in Armenia.
At the meeting with the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the parties referred in particular to the necessity of deepening economic cooperation between Armenia and Singapore.
According to Lee Hsien Loong, small countries do not decide on the course of international relations but follow international rules. The Prime Minister said that in his opinion, the size of the country is not an impediment for the development. He said it is no accident that both countries have participated at the Nuclear Summit in Seoul.
At the meeting of the President of Armenia and Prime Minister of Singapore the significant role of the Armenian community in the history of country was also underscored. Noting, in particular, good repute of the Armenian entrepreneurs and their unique mission in the development of the commercial relations in Singapore at the end of the 19th century, Lee Hsien Loong expressed desire to see the reestablishment of the Armenian-Singaporean close economic relations.
At the Istana residence in Singapore, the official negotiations were concluded with the document signing ceremony. In particular, signed were the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Singapore in the cultural area and Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Singapore on the mutual abolishment of visa regime for the holders of diplomatic and service passports.
In the framework of the state visit, today President Serzh Sargsyan visited also the Botanic Garden of Singapore, where the ceremony of terming the “Orchid of Singapore” flower – which is the national symbol of Singapore – has taken place. Such ceremonies in Singapore are held in honor of the high-level guests of the country and distinguished figures. The Armenian President’s participation in the ceremony carries another meaning as well: the orchid type which carries “Wanda Miss Joakim” name is also known as the “Orchid of Singapore” or “Orchid of Princess Aloha”. It received its name in honor of the Singaporean flower breeder of the Armenian descent Agnes Joakim (Ashkhen Hovakimian), who had discovered this breed. Agnes Joakim (Ashkhen Hovakimian) was born on April 7, in 1854 in Singapore, in the family of Barsegh and Urelia Joakim (Hovakimian).
In the inscription made in the Book of Honorary Guests, President Sargsyan wrote on this occasion, “This wonder of nature - “Wanda Miss Joakim” orchid, contains in full measure harmony and beauty which are peculiar to Singapore and its people. I am proud that the national symbol of Singapore bares the name of the Armenian Agnes Joakim. Through her love for everything beautiful, Agnes had forever intertwined the Armenians in the history of the people of Singapore. Let this magnificent flower become also a symbol of the everlasting Armenian-Singaporean friendship.”
At the meeting with the leading businessmen and heads of the most powerful corporations of Singapore, President Serzh Sargsyan discussed prospects of making investments in Armenia. The representatives of the business community of Singapore were particularly interested in the opportunities for cooperating with Armenia in the areas of information technologies, telecommunications, health care, urban development and programming, construction of hydro-energy stations, waste management and water resources. At the meeting with Serzh Sargsyan, it was agreed that the Armenian businessmen will visit Singapore in the nearest future for the purpose of translating negotiations and intentions into concrete programs.