Interviews and press conferences
President Serzh Sargsyan and the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta Fra Matthew Festing summarized the results of the negotiations at the meeting with the representatives of the mass media
Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan for the mass media on the results on the meeting with the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta Fra Matthew Festing
Your Most Eminent Highness,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today is a momentous day for all of us: Today the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta is conducting his first visit to Armenia. Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta, which are developing in a friendly and constructive atmosphere, have a years-long history. However at this moment a unique, I would say, a historic bridge is being established between the world’s first Christian nation and the oldest Christian military order. It is also symbolic because back in the time of the crusades, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and the Order of Malta had close political and cultural ties, which today are getting a new life. The visit of Your Most Eminent Highness inspires us to give a new quality to our bilateral cooperation.
Moments ago, Fra Matthew Festing and I, in the atmosphere of sincerity and great mutual understanding discussed prospects of bilateral cooperation, as well as important regional and international issues.
We certainly expressed our profound thanks for the humanitarian assistance which the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta has been providing since the devastating earthquake of 1988; the assistance has been significant and certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
We have also discussed opportunities for expanding the cooperation in the areas of medical services, protection and organization of the civilian population in emergencies, joint historical research in which the Order of Malta and Armenia have accumulated impressive experience. On this I certainly believe a very useful work can be carried out: As a result of that useful work we may obtain additional information on the cooperation between the crusaders and the Kingdom of Cilicia.
We concurred that we possess the most important thing for the further development of our cooperation – the same system of values which translates into similar approaches for the resolution of problems. It is no secret that the history of the Armenian nation has been full of struggle – for the preservation of our Christian identity and values, for the Christian culture, for the promotion of humanism. One can say that after the adoption of Christianity, Armenians have been carrying out their historic mission in line with the motto of the Order of Malta - Tuition of Faith.
We have also spoken about the special relations existing between Armenia and the Holy See, a mass offered by the Holy Father on April 12, 2015 at the Saint Peter’s Cathedral and dedicated to the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide and certainly about the visit of the Pope to Armenia last June, which in these violent days was a brilliant example of the inter-church solidarity. Taking the opportunity, I thanked His Most Eminent Highness for being present at the mass and for remembering in his prayers the sons and daughters of the Armenian nation.
We have certainly spoken about the tragic situation in Syria which became a humanitarian catastrophe. We noted with pain that the Christians, and not only the Christians, there are being prosecuted and tortured. On behalf of Armenia, I expressed readiness to bring our contribution to the implementation of any initiative which will somehow stop the elimination of the Christians and Christian heritage at the Middle East.
Your Most Eminent Highness, once again – welcome to Armenia, welcome to the first Christian nation where we are always delighted to receive Armenia’s distinguished guests.
Statement by His Most Eminent Highness the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Malta Fra Matthew Festing at the meeting with the representatives of the mass media on the results of the meeting with the President of Armenia
Your Excellency Mister President,
Your Excellences Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is the first time in the 900-year-old history of the Order of Malta that a Grand Master has visited Armenia, now I bother if that’s really quite accurate, I’m not quite sure, because surely during period when the Order of Malta was present in homeland, I'm sure, we, occasionally, we must have seen Grand Masters’ train in the direction of Armenia, I suspect. So probably what is written down here, certainly, in case of modern Armenia that is true. I am truly delighted to be here in Yerevan on this visit which , as far as I can say, is a very momentous occasion.
I want to thank President Sargsyan most sincerely for the warm welcome he has given to me and indeed to my delegation.
Very few nations in the world have a history that is as old and rich as yours. It is not for nothing that you are known as the most ancient Christian nation. But we must, all of us, never forget, too, that in the history of Armenia there are also great tragedies. This afternoon it will be my duty and my privilege to pay homage to your very courageous people at the memorial which commemorates the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1922. And I will certainly be doing so in the fervent hope that such terrible events will never occur again.
I am proud that the Order of Malta was able to show its commitment to Armenia in assisting refugees after First World War, and again in December 1988 when your country was struck by a devastating earthquake, as His Excellency mentioned before. Today we still carry out humanitarian aid programmes in your country- for example, the orphanages in Echmiadzin and Zvartontz, the sanatorium in Dilijan and the school for children with speaking and hearing impairements here inYerevan.
I am confident that this visit will provide an opportunity to reinforce the historic ties between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Republic of Armenia. And I hope that we can continue to develop not only our relationship but the work that the Order does here in Armenia.
The Order of Malta is committed in many crisis areas around the world. It is currently present in the areas affected by the Syrian conflict. In Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, our medical teams are assisting refugees fleeing wars and persecutions. Our doctors and nurses are providing first aid in the Mediterranean to those arriving in those dangerous boats from the north African coast. In response to the influx of migrants along the Balkan route, our Associations in Eastern Europe have all scaled up their assistance projects.
As well as the great humanitarian emergencies we are facing, the members, professionals and volunteers of the Order of Malta are active every day in 120 countries, caring for the poor and marginalised of the society. Our mission is also focused on the preservation of peace and security, the eradication of poverty, inequality and the respect and protection of human dignity. The humanitarian activities of the Order of Malta around the world are very largely facilitated through our diplomatic humanitarian network and we have bilateral diplomatic relations with over 100 states, with international organisations, with the European Union, and we of course have Permanent Observer status at the United Nations.
It is very much my hope and belief that this visit here to Armenia will help us both to continue to build on the already excellent relations between us, inspired by our common wish to improve the lives and living conditions of those who most need it.
Thank you very much mister President for your marvelous and kind welcome to us all, and I personaly am very much enjoying my visit to your country.