10, 2008

Joint Press Conference of the Presidents of Armenia and the Russian Federation

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Ladies and Gentlemen:

Allow me to once again cordially welcome our Russian friends in Yerevan. I am truly glad to have yet another meeting with the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Medvedev. I think Dmitri Anatolievich will agree with me that our meetings prove once again that the Armenian-Russian relations have acquired the nature of a dynamically developing strategic partnership and cooperation. The strong basis for these relations is the agreement on “Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance”, as well as the legal base which we are trying to constantly expand. It is important that the political dialogue of our two countries is deepening. We have expressed readiness to apply further efforts to coordinate our foreign policies. Today the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries have signed the program of consultations for 2009-2010.
At the meeting we expressed willingness to further increase the efficiency of the economic cooperation. We studied thoroughly the results of the 10th session of the Intergovernmental Commission, which concluded its works yesterday, and which was mainly focused on the program of economic cooperation till year 2010. I want to specially note that the bulk of the agreements reached before have already been implemented. Among them is the import to Armenia of energy supplies which will allow us to provide for the sustainable development of our economy. We are also interested in the promotion of the relations among the different regions and economic entities of our two countries, and the agreements signed here before testify to that fact.
During our meeting we have also discussed important international issues, among them maintenance of global and regional stability, and prospects of the joint response to the new threats and challenges. We attach great import to the cooperation of our countries in the framework of CSTO, CIS, and other international structures. It is in our common interest to use the potential of these structures more efficiently and develop new types of cooperation. We are also intended to continue to work jointly for the strengthening of security, stability, and cooperation in the South Caucasus region.
We assess positively the participation of Russia in the OSCE Minsk Group, where along with the other Co-Chairs of the Group - France and the United States - Russia is promoting the process of a peaceful resolution of the NK conflict. Armenia has once again reiterated her readiness to reach the resolution of the conflict based on the Madrid principles.

Humanitarian cooperation, contacts in the areas of science, culture and education are also of great importance. The Armenian-Russian University is a positive example of cooperation in that area, as the broadcasting of the “Culture” channel.
As always, our talks with the President of the Russian Federation have been conducted in the atmosphere of friendship and understanding. They have been substantial and touched upon almost every aspect of our relations.
Thank you.

D. MEDVEDEV: Ladies and Gentlemen:
There has not been a press conference in such fantastic conditions for a long time – in the open air, on a nice and warm fall day. So, that alone is a good reason to thank our Armenian friends. And of course, I would like to express gratitude for warm reception in Yerevan.

I am entirely satisfied with the results of today’s negotiations. They have been conducted in the good tradition of the high level meetings and reiterated the allied nature of our relations.

Our attention was focused, of course, on our bilateral issues and on the development of our trade and economic cooperation. Russia assertively heads the list of Armenia’s foreign trade partners. In the last eight months the trade turn over has increased. I am hopeful that the end of the year will be successful too. The fuel and energy sector is a priority, as well as the areas of industry, transportation, banking system, and information technologies.

We intend to further develop cooperation in manufacturing, promote mutual investments, and expand relations between different regions of our two countries. Agreements for that effect have been signed earlier today.

I would also like to acknowledge the efficient work of the Intergovernmental Commission which recently held its 10th meeting in Yerevan. With this regard a great amount of work has been done and today the results have become evident during the negotiations and the agreement signing.

Humanitarian ties between our countries have become stronger as well. We work together at the CIS Council for Cooperation on Humanitarian Issues, the Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Programs and Armenia is one of our closest and most active partners.

Another prominent event has been the Second Conference of the Writers, Translators and Publishers from the CIS and Baltic states recently held in Yerevan. I am confident that the proclamation of 2009 the Year of Youth and 2010 – the Year of Science and Innovation will provide the opportunities for the implementation of new prospective programs and initiatives.

We have also discussed the agenda of foreign relations. Among those issues were, naturally, issues related to the activities of the CIS and CSTO. We are ready and willing to say once again that we are prepared for a closer cooperation with Armenia in the framework of the CSTO. In September Armenia assumed the chairmanship of the Organization.

We spoke also about the situation in the South Caucasus after Georgia’s aggression against the South Ossetia. Our countries have always been in favor of fortifying regional peace and stability. We agree that all the contentious issues should be resolved exclusively through peaceful means, based on the principles of international law. The new program signed today by our Ministers of Foreign Affairs will become a new impetus for the deepening of foreign relations.

We also spoke about the NK peace process, and discussed many very important issues. Russia will continue to assist in finding mutually acceptable solutions for this very complicated issue.

In conclusion, I would like to once again express my gratitude to Serzh Sargsyan, all Armenian friends and our partners for the constructive discussion of the items on the agenda. I am confident that these negotiations will become another step in further strengthening of our allied relations.

QUESTION: The Armenian-Russian relations are considered to be an example of strategic partnership. However, some believe that Armenia is forced to be friends with Russia. What do you think of it and how would you assess the Armenian-Russian relations in their entirety?

SERZH SARGSYAN: I am aware of these pretty blunt viewpoints of the so-called experts and analysts. I categorically disagree. You cannot force anyone into friendship, moreover – to maintain that friendship. As the saying goes - one cannot be forced to love. Our relations are characterized by openness, transparency, reliability, and I think that it is the mutual trust that makes our friendship strong. This very trust makes it possible to establish and develop contacts with the countries of the region and beyond. Our allied relations with Russia have never obstructed our relations and cooperation with other countries. And I think that the present level of our relations is very good but I would like it also to be exemplary.

DMITRI MEDVEDEV: Even if the Armenian-Russian relations and their very advanced, allied and friendly nature are imposed, it’s been so for centuries, and it is obvious that they are precious. We are not just neighbors, friends, and partners, the chemistry of our relations is very special, and it was forged during the very demanding history of both Armenian and Russian peoples. Today this time- and history-tested relations are being built on a very solid legal base and on just human sympathy. All of you were present at the opening of the Russian Square and I think that it was the best proof that our relations are based not only on a pragmatic international and domestic computation but also on a centuries-long friendship. This is the most valuable thing in our relations which we are obliged to keep forever.

QUESTION: For many years now a difficult word – “Karabakh”, has been uttered time and again, and the leaders of the states constantly promise to find a solution. Please tell us and elaborate a little: what is the situation with that difficult issue nowadays? This issue is very close to my heart.

SERZH SARGSYAN: In my opinion, speaking about Karabakh it is necessary to use the word “tender”. I understand, there is a problem and we have to find a solution. During today’s negotiations we, naturally, spoke about Karabakh. I would like to state that Armenia is ready to continue negotiations based on the Madrid principles. You can find out whatever you need to know about that document on the internet. It has been deposited by the mediators with the concrete organization, there is no secret about it. These are principles which allow to recognize Karabakh’s right for self-determination as well as other principles which are essential for us. The most important thing is that we are certain that the issue can be solved through concessions, through negotiations.

DMITRI MEDVEDEV: I agree with Serzh Azatovich. Events, which took place in August, proved that any complicated issue must be resolved based on international law and through negotiations. Nothing else will yield a positive result. This is one of the most important lessons of the August crisis in the Caucasus.
As for the question of where the negotiations stand now, it would be difficult to define the level of the agreements reached so far. I hope that we are on the advanced stage, at least both sides are ready to look for solutions. We spoke about this in detail with Serzh Sargsyan, I will not dwell on the details, since these are negotiation details and that is what makes them valuable. However, I am very much hopeful that the meeting of the three Presidents will take place very soon in the capital of Russia and discussions will be continued.

QUESTION: Mr. Sargsyan, for many years the leaders of the both countries have been saying that economic relations between the two states are lagging behind the political relations. At the 10th session of the Intergovernmental Commission it was noted that the turn over this year could reach 1 billion US dollars. What do you think of the current Armenian-Russian economic relations?

SERZH SARGSYAN: I would always rather the economic relations to be lagging behind the political ones. The numbers are impressive: this year the trade turnover is approaching 1 billion US dollars, investments are also around 1 billion US dollars, and there are 1200 organizations in Armenia with Russian capital. These are impressive and serious numbers for Armenia’s small economy. However we should strive to keep our political relations a step ahead. I think today the time has come for us speak about daring and great joint projects. Today we have spoken with Dmitri Anatolievich just about that. We have spoken about a new nuclear power station, about the construction of a new railroad, and other projects. Our current economic relations are impressive but they tend to trail behind the political relations.

DMITRI MEDVEDEV: (smiles) And our task is to prevail over those tendencies.

QUESTION: My question relates to the global financial crisis. Are the efforts undertaken by Russia to overcome the ramifications of the crisis sufficient and what is the role of the new Presidential Council in the process of financial stabilization?

DMITRI MEDVEDEV: Quite understandably, the financial crisis, which is now in its active phase, cannot make anyone happy. Its results are economic slow down, cut back on investments and drop in the standards we are reaching for. Thus, each government is struggling to get out of this unpleasant situation with minimal possible loses. We are living in an interconnected world, and it is possible that, let’s say, 15 years ago this problem wouldn’t affect Russia this way. Today the situation is different, we have an open economy and we are compelled, just like other states, to stand up against all the challenges that have arisen. This is the advantage and the challenge of the open economy. Economy is developing in its own cycles, by its own rules and it should be taken into consideration as well. It is obvious that we are paying the price for the blunders of some countries, first of all of the US, meaning that the influence of the American financial market on the global economy is huge. But this is the reality which we are facing and we have to make decisions considering the current situation. The adopted decisions are sufficient; however it doesn’t mean that there will be no adjustments. If necessary new structures will be created, new administrative and financial decisions will be made. I want to repeat: our objective is to minimize the consequences of the economic and financial crises. As for the Council dealing with the issues of the stock market, it will be dealing with the issues related to the macroeconomic regulation. It will also monitor the situation at the stock market, and so on. The members of the Council are assiduous and I am confident that when they encounter difficulties their actions could have beneficial influence on the process of fighting the ramifications of the crisis. I hope that the colleagues will be able to accomplish that as well.

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