Statements and messages of the President of RA
Toast by President Serzh Sargsyan at the state supper held in honor of Greek President Karolos Papoulias
Distinguished Mr. President, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for us to host the delegation headed by President Karolos Papoulias of the friendly state of Greece in Armenia. Of course, Armenia is not a new discovery for Mr. President. He visited Armenia already in 2007, and we strongly believe that such reciprocal visits are the striking illustration of the age-old friendship of our peoples as representatives of ancient civilizations.
The history of the greatest achievements of human thought – democracy, art, science, philosophy – is often identified with the history of the Greek people. The values created by them many centuries ago still underlie the spiritual and cultural system of modern civilization. The Armenian people who have always enriched and made their unique contribution to this value chain throughout their age-old history and creative existence also embrace and share these values and ideas. From Hellenism to the adoption of Christianity, from the Byzantine Empire to the tragic events in recent history the Armenian and Greek peoples walked side by side supporting each other in difficult situations.
Some people say that real friends appear in times of trouble, while others consider ones who are able to frankly share others’ joy and successes as real friends. It is your choice, ladies and gentlemen, to show preference to one of these two definitions. However, I assure you that the Armenian-Greek friendship has proved its authenticity in both cases.
It is not easy to describe the hardships Armenians suffered under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, the Greek people know it well enough: it was our fortune to share that hard and cruel page of history. We are grateful to the Greek people who were the first to grant asylum to the Armenian refugees escaped from the Genocide becoming one our greatest friends in times of trouble. Today, the offspring of those refugees live and create in Greece thereby strengthening our friendship.
The Armenian-Greek friendship is also a history of happiness and successes. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations our interstate relations have embarked on the path of cooperation and mutual assistance which has been reflected in all the spheres of our bilateral contacts - political, economic, military, cultural, as well as inter-parliamentary and decentralized. Armenian and Greek soldiers have performed service side by side in an atmosphere of mutual understanding in the name of stability and security in our common European region.
Armenia attaches great importance to the European vector of its foreign policy, and in this regard Greece has been and continues to be a vital partner. Greece is one of the forerunners of the formation of European identity and Armenia is the first country of the world to adopt Christianity, the religion underlying European identity, as a state religion predetermining its future development path once and forever.
I think it is an undeniable truth that it has been our fortune to live in extremely difficult period of time full of challenges and hardships. Though circumstances can vary and change permanently, the viability formula of each state remains the same: ensure the physical and economic security of its population and preserve the whole range of relations with friends who have stood the test of time making sure that short-term interests do not hinder their relations.
As one of the greatest Greek thinkers Aristotle put it: “Friendship is one spirit which lives inside two bodies.” And if the spirit of peoples is the ideas and values they have embraced, we can surely state that living in different states, the Armenian and Greek peoples share that common spirit.
I would like to raise a toast in honor of Mr. Papoulias, President of Greece, to the well-being of Greece and its people and to the glory of the Armenian-Greek enduring friendship. And as Greeks say “yasas” (Greek toast).