Interviews and press conferences
Press conference of President Serzh Sargsyan and President Vladimir Putin on the results of the meeting
President Serzh Sargsyan’s remarks on the results of the negotiations with the RF President Vladimir Putin
Distinguished Vladimir Vladimirovich,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Minutes ago, we have concluded very productive negotiations, which were held in the framework of the Russian President’s state visit to Armenia.
In the atmosphere of friendship and trust, we have discussed in detail the process of development of the strategic Armenian-Russian allied relations, set major guidelines for the future. As a result of the negotiations, signed were 12 significant documents on cooperation in the political, economic and military areas, nuclear safety, energy, education, and tourism. These agreements will augment over two hundred interstate agreements and treaties which constitute the legal base of our relations. This week, the National Assembly of Armenia will ratify the Agreement of the Development of the Military and Technical Cooperation signed last summer, which opens wide opportunities for the purchase of arms and military equipment from the Russian defense enterprises at the domestic prices. After that there will be no document left which needs to be ratified by the Armenian side in bilateral or CSTO formats.
We stressed the importance of further coordination of activities on the international arena and close cooperation in all areas of interstate relations, including political, trade and economic, cultural and humanitarian, military and reiterated the unwavering nature of the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance and Declaration on the Allied Interaction between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation for the 21st century.
I have informed the President of the Russian Federation on Armenia’s purposeful steps aimed at the swift accession to the Customs Union and joining the Common Economic Area of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russian Federation. The President of Russia reiterated readiness of the Russian side to provide necessary assistance in the process in accordance with our Joint Statement of September 3, 2013 and decision of the Eurasian Economic Supreme Council of October 24, 2013. The Third Interregional Forum, whose opening we attended in Gyumri, is dedicated to that very topic.
Stressed was the importance of preserving the dynamics of development of the institutes and mechanisms of the Collective Security Treaty Organization which is the main guarantor of security and peace in the area of its responsibility. We have expressed intention to reinforce potential of the Rapid Response collective forces and take practical steps for the development of the mechanisms aimed at their mobilization, deployment and efficient use.
I have informed the President of the Russian Federation about the results of the meeting with the President of Azerbaijan which took place on November 19 in Vienna and thanked the Russian side for the efforts aimed at the resolution of the NK conflict in the framework of Russia’s Co-chairmanship in the Minsk Group. We have reiterated our mutual position to solve it through the exclusively peaceful means, based on the indivisible principles of non-use or threat to use force, peoples legal equality and their right for self-determination, and territorial integrity.
We agreed to continue our joint efforts aimed at the steady increase of trade, Russian investments in Armenia, creation of joint enterprises, deepening of scientific and technical cooperation. Principal attention will be given to the issues related to nuclear energy and development of transformational infrastructure.
We have also discussed issues related to regional security. In this context, we welcome agreement reached in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program which is, undoubtedly, an important step which enhances stability and security at the regional and global levels.
The state visit of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to Armenia has become an important milestone in the modern history of the Armenian-Russian relations. We have agreed to continue active contacts on the broadest range of issues. The intergovernmental and interparliamentary commissions as well as the commission on military and technical cooperation will continue their works. I am confident that works of the Interregional Forum will result in the geographical expansion of contacts between our marzes and regions, local governance bodies. We have also agreed to assist and promote humanitarian, cultural and youth exchanges and contacts.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, we have agreed on the creation of the interstate Presidential Council between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation and have tasked our Administrations to develop drafts of the necessary documents which will outline the works of the Council and submit them for signing during our next meeting.
Thank you for your attention. It is my pleasure to give the floor to the President of the Russian Federation.
Question: The international community witnessed a breakthrough in Geneva regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, to which Russia also contributed. In your opinion, how will this agreement affect the development of transport and communications infrastructure, particularly in our region, especially since it holds vital importance for Armenia’s economic growth prospects?
Serzh Sargsyan: It is well known that Iran is an important country for Armenia, for that very reason we view a peaceful resolution of the contentious issues existing between the Islamic Republic of Iran, EU and the United States only as a positive development. You can see that practically every year the number of tourists from Iran is, unfortunately, decreasing. I believe that if relations are improved, it can be only beneficial for us, and the main role here belongs to Russia. Vladimir Putin will answer this question in detail.
Vladimir Putin: Naturally, Russia welcomes the agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme. In large part these agreements are based on Russian proposals. We have always advocated that this complex issue should be resolved in accordance with the principles and norms of international law, and by giving Iran the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, provided that unconditional security of all countries in the region is guaranteed.
The first step has been taken, and now we need to move forward. We very much hope that the international community, together with all participants in this process, will reach an agreement in the near future about how to continue working together and achieving new results. All necessary conditions for this are in place.
As regards transport infrastructure, then of course, bearing in mind that it is possible to build a transport link-up through Iran, we have some plans to develop rail transport. There are some difficulties regarding financial support for projects, but in general they are wholly feasible.
Along with this, it seems to me that we should all work properly together, including in the South Caucasus, to restore something that worked effectively during the Soviet Union and has now been lost. I am referring to the possibility of organising such a transport communication within the CIS. There are some problems, but I think that it is quite possible to agree on their resolutions. In any case, today the necessary prerequisites for this exist.
Question: Mr Putin, Russian activities within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and the country’s general role in the region indicate that it is interested in maintaining peace and stability in the region. Armenia also sees no alternative other than preserving peace and security. However, Azerbaijani authorities often rattle their sabers and threaten to resume hostilities. As Armenia’s strategic ally, what would Russia’s reaction be if Azerbaijan’s militaristic statements were to be realised?
Vladimir Putin: If you continue to repeat this aloud, then the conditions for achieving a peaceful settlement will be compromised, and other aspects of the problem will become preponderant.
We would like to avoid bloodshed in this region of the world, one that is so close to Russian borders and has such close ties with the Russian Federation. For no blood to be shed by Armenian citizens or citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan. That is what we are working towards.
In my opinion, to talk hypothetically about what we would do if a war were to break out is totally counterproductive. It would look as if we are preparing for war, and we must, as the President of Armenia already said, ensure that all sensitive issues are resolved exclusively by political and diplomatic means. We shall continue to work towards this.
Question: As far as we can tell, from Armenia’s perspective the pricing formula for Russian gas will be quite advantageous, and perhaps this can be considered a useful first step in Armenia’s efforts to join the Customs Union. Mr President, you said that a so-called road map governing the two countries’ integration is being drawn up. When will it be finished and, in general, how fast will these integration processes occur?
Vladimir Putin: I already talked about how in Minsk we agreed to begin joint work aimed at Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union and Common Economic Space. We have created the relevant working groups both bilaterally – between Armenia and Russia – and on a multilateral basis. I am referring to the working group between Armenia and the Customs Union Commission. I will not hide the fact that we were a little surprised, though perhaps this is only natural, that the Armenian side is acting very energetically and with a high degree of professionalism that, frankly, puts us in a difficult position. We are having a hard time catching up to our Armenian partners.
We will do everything to ensure that this event (Armenia’s full- scale accession to the Customs Union) takes place as soon as possible. I’m afraid to specify a deadline today, because it does not only depend on the Russian Federation, but also on our partners from Kazakhstan and Belarus. But Russia, for its part, will do everything in its power to ensure that Armenia joins the Customs Union as soon as possible.
Even now, as you’ve probably noticed, we have taken practical steps to ensure favourable measures for the Armenian economy even before its full-fledged entry into the Customs Union. The pricing formula you mentioned gives us the opportunity to sell natural gas to Armenia at $189 per thousand cubic metres. Well, think about it: for Europe the price is almost $500. This is the first thing.
Second. As a CSTO member country, Armenia will receive arms in line with the Russian Federation’s domestic prices. But this is not just a security issue, it is an economic one related to budgetary expenditures. The same applies to oil and oil products. We are unilaterally removing Russia’s 30 percent export duty. Significantly less funds will be available for Russia’s budget, but this creates favourable conditions for Armenia today, for the economy’s normal functioning, and for a smooth but quite fast accession to the Customs Union.
Question: Good evening, I realise that we are now in the capital of a brotherly republic, in Yerevan, one of my favourite cities, but I would like to ask a question about another capital that I like equally, about Kiev. Just recently there has been alarming news from there, and even calls for revolution. Accordingly, government buildings are being blockaded and windows are being smashed, and so on and so forth. How would you describe or comment on the events of the past few days?
Vladimir Putin: Regarding the events in Ukraine, they remind me less of a revolution than of a pogrom. And strange as it is, this all has little to do with Ukraine-EU relations. Because if you pay attention, no one is delving into these draft agreements, no one is looking at anything or listening to anything.
People say that the dream of the Ukrainian people has been stolen. But if you look at the contents of these agreements, then while it is good to dream, many will simply not live to see their dream be realised, never experience it, because the conditions are very harsh.
In my opinion, as I already said, everything that is happening is not directly related to cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union. This is an internal political process, the opposition’s attempt to destabilise the current and – I want to emphasise – legitimate government authority. And more than that, everything that is happening now is not a revolution, but a well-organised protest. And in my view, these events were not prepared for today, but for the presidential election campaign of spring 2015. What’s happening now is just a little false start due to certain circumstances, but is also preparations for the presidential election. The fact that these are preparations is obvious for all objective observers, judging from what we see on television, how well-organised and trained militant groups actually operate. That’s my assessment.
Either the opposition cannot always control what happens there, or it’s just a certain political screen for extremist activities. We believe that the situation will nevertheless become more normal, and that in the end the Ukrainian leadership, and Ukrainian people themselves, will determine their next steps for the near future and the long-term. Let me repeat once again, and I want to stress this: whatever choice the Ukrainian people make, we will respect it.