I am convinced that this future-oriented visit will open a new page in our historical relations. State dinner in Italy in honour of President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian and his wife Nouneh Sarkissian
This evening, in honour of the President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian and his wife Nouneh Sarkissian, in Italy on a state visit, a state dinner was given at the Quirinal Palace on behalf of the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella and Mrs. Laura Mattarella.
Presidents Armen Sarkissian and Sergio Mattarella exchanged toasts, in which they referred to the centuries-old Armenian-Italian friendship, the strong interstate relations over the past years since establishing diplomatic relations, and the prospects for their development.
In his speech, President Sarkissian said: "Armenian-Italian relations are anchored on rich and ancient traditions, common civilizational and Christian values. Our paths often intertwined at historical crossroads, mutually enriching each other, our culture and thinking, our knowledge.
Throughout the centuries-long turbulent history, the Armenian people faced many difficulties and trials, but they resisted and overcame them with dignity and endurance. Unfortunately, even today, in Armenia and in our region, we still cannot talk about a full-fledged and lasting peace. It was the first year to mark the beginning of the 44-day war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh a few days before my visit. In Armenia and Artsakh, we commemorated our young heroes, soldiers, and civilians who fell victim to the war ...
According to the well-known Armenian and Italian proverb, a person knows his real friends in times of crisis, misfortunes, and hard days. Last year, in the most tragic period due to the pandemic, we felt unbearable pain and excitement for the Italian people. For our part, we are deeply moved by the outstanding support, compassion and solidarity of the Italian people during the difficult days of the war. We will never forget it.
Of course, it is not only crises and trials that bring Armenians and Italians closer.
There are traces of the presence of Armenians in Italy in almost the entire territory of the country. Even the saints of the Armenian nation, such as St. Grigor, Minas, and David, who are the spiritual guardians of different Italian cities, are the anchors of the Armenian-Italian relations. Our ties have been deep and wide, and since Armenia’s independence, we have steadily been building our relations on such exceptional spiritual and historical bases.
Today our countries have strong interstate relations with the ongoing high-level political dialogue; a vivid example of that, Mr. President, is the warm relations between the presidents of Italy and Armenia.
Next year marks the 30th anniversary of Armenian-Italian diplomatic relations. According to the great Italian Dante Alighieri, "Without friends we cannot have a perfect life." Although our interstate relations are only thirty years old, I am sure that the centuries-old friendship of the Armenian and Italian peoples, with its innumerable rich manifestations, is aimed at building that Dantean perfect life for our two states and peoples.
I am convinced that my state visit to Italy, aiming at the future, will strengthen the Armenian-Italian friendship and open a new page in our historical relations.
We talk a lot about the likeness of the Armenian and Italian societies, the Armenians and the Italians. I have thought a lot about it myself. We are alike because we are centuries-old peoples. We are alike because we are ancient Christian nations. We are alike because we are emotional. However, last May, after spending two or three days at the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice, I discovered that we are alike in our attitude and love for knowledge, books, and preservation of books. Both the Italians and Armenians love to collect books; and they have preserved and protected books since the Middle Ages, often at the cost of their own lives.
Mr. President, when you were in Armenia with Mrs. Mattarella, you visited the Matenadaran, which is a unique temple of knowledge and books. Many of the books reached the Matenadaran due to individuals, on the shoulders of women fleeing from the Genocide and enormous difficulties in the Ottoman Empire. On the Island of San Lazzaro, the Mekhitarist Congregation created a huge collection in three hundred years, which is preserved and protected like eyesight. And I thought that the future of our two peoples, peoples who do not have natural resources but have a huge human-cultural wealth, will be linked with knowledge, books, and science.
In that sense, it is a great pleasure for me today, Mr. President, to present you with a book called "Rome-Armenia.” I have a little connection with this book, it is the catalogue of the "Rome-Armenia" exhibition, which was held in the Sistine Chapel in 1999. This is a story about the two thousand years of friendship between Armenia and Rome. I hope today, we begin the first day of the next 2000 years of such history.
I offer to raise a glass for the friendship, welfare, and peaceful future of our peoples, for the sincere Armenian-Italian friendship, for my dear friend, the wise and far-sighted politician, President of Italy Sergio Mattarella and Mrs. Mattarella."
The state dinner was followed by a concert of classical music, performed by the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra (artistic director - chief conductor Eduard Topchyan); music by Komitas, as well as Francesco Malipiero's "Armenia", compositions by Mozart and Mansuryan were performed at the Quirinal Palace.