President attends signing of agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the Sovereign Order of Malta
Today, the President of the Republic of Armenia attended the signed between the Republic of Armenia and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (Sovereign Order of Malta). The document was signed by RA Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Grand Chancellor of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, H.E. Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.
The agreement was signed considering the excellent relations established between Armenia and the Sovereign Order of Malta as an international depoliticized humanitarian entity since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1998, the long tradition of cooperation in the spheres of healthcare and social assistance, as well as the willingness to further develop the existing ties of friendship and cooperation, promote the Sovereign Order’s humanitarian activities in the Republic of Armenia.
The Cooperation Agreement seeks to formulate a common framework for cooperation and set out guidelines for the promotion of patient care, social and healthcare activities carried out by the Sovereign Order of Malta in the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
Armenia and the Sovereign Order will cooperate in healthcare, food safety, volunteerism, disaster risk reduction, social programs, and other spheres subject to mutual agreement.
Following the signing of the Cooperation Agreement, President Serzh Sargsyan and Lieutenant of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto made statements for the mass media.
Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan after the signing of the Cooperation Agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the Sovereign Order of Malta
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I am grateful for being hosted at the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and enjoying a warm welcome here. I am very much inspired, as today I joined Pope Francis to attend the unveiling ceremony of the statue of Doctor of the Church St. Gregory of Narek, the emeritus son of the Armenian nation. We consider it another eternal symbol of solidarity between the two Christian communities.
The present visit is of great significance to me. This year marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Looking back at the past years, I am glad to state that we have something to put on record today. As early as in 1998, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta accredited Ambassador to Armenia, and we reciprocated a few years ago.
A new chapter was opened up in the history of our diplomatic relations with the first-ever visit paid to our country by the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 2016, adding relish to our cooperation, which is imbued with the spirit of friendship. Bearing in mind my today’s visit, we can confidently state that the desire to keep up the pace of high-level dialogue is mutual, which can help us make a better use of the potential inherent in bilateral relations.
The newly signed cooperation agreement provides for joint activities in humanitarian affairs and healthcare. This agreement is a manifestation of the will to tap the cooperation potential, and we must have it serve its purpose.
We all know that close political, economic and cultural ties were forged between the first Christian country and the ancient Christian Order in the Middle Ages, based on mutual understanding and the reciprocal desire to support each other which, together with the shared Christian values, laid a solid groundwork for building interstate relations between Armenia and Malta.
Indeed, the Maltese Order’s humanitarian activity across the globe deserves the highest praise. Our country is among its beneficiaries. We are grateful that the Sovereign Order has been implementing humanitarian projects in Armenia ever since the devastating earthquake of 1988 and has become our best friend.
In this context, I especially want to emphasize that the efforts of Maltese Knights and thousands of volunteers in 120 countries, regardless of nationality or belief, stem from the Christian principles of solidarity, philanthropy and support of those in need.
These activities go in tune with the humanitarian mission of the Sovereign Order of Malta, and fit into our people’s centuries-old vision of tolerance and harmonious co-existence.
The Sovereign Order is always where the most urgent help is needed, be it in Syria, Congo, Haiti, or Afghanistan. Despite its scarce resources, Armenia, too, sent humanitarian relief to the brotherly people of Syria during the country’s worst days. These are just the values that unite us, and the promotion of these values can challenge today’s manifestations of xenophobia and extremism in the world.
Thank you very much.
Statement by the Lieutenant of the Grand Master after the signing of the Cooperation Agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the Sovereign Order of Malta
I am happy to host President Serzh Sargsyan and his delegation as they are paying an official visit today.
Two years have just passed since the Grand Master’s first-ever visit to Armenia, which is a vivid testimony to the common will to strengthen the already established best relationships and expand cooperation in the healthcare and humanitarian spheres.
On this occasion, the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Republic of Armenia have signed a cooperation agreement for a period of ten years. I mean an agreement based on strong ties developed during the 20 years of diplomatic relations and aimed at strengthening the healthcare and welfare activities carried out by the Sovereign Order of Malta in the Republic of Armenia.
Among the key activities in Armenia, I would like to single out our involvement in the Zvartnots orphanage that cares for over a hundred children, the health center in Dilijan which deals with the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis, the educational institution for children with hearing impairments and the assistance provided to the hospital in Echmiadzin.
The present commitment matches that of the past when our volunteers were mobilized to assist Armenian refugees during World War I and, some decades later in 1988, to help survivors of the earthquake that caused 25,000 casualties. On that occasion the Order sent medical and rescue teams and managed the transport abroad of many injured children in need of delicate surgery.
On that occasion, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta sent a group of doctors and rescuers to the disaster zone and organized the transfer of many injured children abroad who needed most complicated surgical intervention.
The link between Armenia, the oldest Christian nation, and the Order of Malta, one of the most ancient Catholic religious orders, goes beyond humanitarian and social aspects – albeit always a priority – to embrace our ancient traditions such as the commitment to protect the Christian minority in the Middle East.
In this respect, I recall the Order’s participation in the 2015 commemoration in Yerevan for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide and, a few days earlier, in the celebrations during which His Holiness Pope Francis spoke for the first time of the massacre of the Armenians as the first genocide of the 20th century.
The Republic of Armenia and the Sovereign Order of Malta are linked by threads that lead to a terrible tragedy.
I am convinced that today’s visit ushers in a new stage of cooperation, which goes through common efforts to prevent other tragedies similar to the one suffered by the Armenian people a century ago.
The Sovereign Order of Malta is a Catholic institution, neutral and apolitical. Through the diplomatic network, the Order serves peoples who are in trouble because of war, famine, persecution, and poverty. It does not pursue predetermined agendas, but it merely dedicates itself to the task of alleviating human suffering and protecting the vulnerable.