LONDON (RFE/RL) —President Serge Sargisian met Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles on Wednesday, February 10, on the second day of a working visit to the United Kingdom.
The Armenian presidential press service said Sargisian and the 83-year-old monarch, meeting at Buckingham Palace, discussed British-Armenian relations, Armenia’s integration into European structures and its efforts to normalize ties with Turkey. “Regarding all these issues the President of Armenia presented to Her Majesty the official position of Yerevan,” it said in a statement. Sarkisian met Charles later in the day at a fundraising dinner organized in Windsor Palace by the Prince of Wales and Armen Sarkisian, a London-based former prime minister of Armenia. The latter (no relation to the Armenian president) plans to use proceeds from the event for restoring four old buildings in Yerevan.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband was the only senior British government official to hold talks with Sargisian. According to Sargisian’s press service, the two men discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement. “David Miliband welcomed efforts of the Armenian President aimed at the normalization of relations with Turkey and noted that Great Britain supports the process,” read its statement.
It is not clear why British Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not meet Sargisian despite an official status attributed to the visit by the Armenian presidential administration. The British ambassador to Armenia, Charles Lonsdale, was reported to say in Yerevan last week that Sargisian’s trip to London will be “private.”
In Windsor Palace, Sargisian and Prince Charles launched the “Yerevan, My Love” project during a reception, which was followed by a concert led by conductor Valeri Gergiev. The “Yerevan, My Love” project aims to renovate four structures of historic and architectural value in the center of the capital, which will serve as social centers for vulnerable groups and gifted children under the auspices of Holy See of Echmiadzin.