Lebanese President Michel Aoun with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan

Lebanon’s President Aoun Visits Armenia

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YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — Lebanese President Michel Aoun arrived for a state visit in Armenia on Thursday, February 22. He was received by President Serzh Sargsyan.

President Michel Aoun toasts with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan

The presidents held a meeting followed by a press conference, during which they confirmed the close ties between the two nations.

“The interstate relations between our countries have a history of just 25 years, but the friendship between our peoples is centuries-long,” Sargsyan said as he welcomed his Lebanese counterpart at the Presidential Palace.

“The Armenian community has played a great role in the reinforcement of friendship between our peoples. We are grateful for the people and authorities of Lebanon for the careful attitude towards our compatriots,” he added.

President of Lebanon Michel Aoun paid a visit to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin within the framework of his official visit to Armenia

Sargsyan also expressed his gratitude to the Lebanese authorities, including the Parliament, for acknowledging the fact of the Armenian Genocide.

Later, Sargsyan hosted an official dinner in honor of Aoun, during which they exchanged toasts and touched upon the Armenian-Lebanese interstate relations. Sargsyan and Aoun talked about the two peoples’ common history, the hardships faced together and their destinies that are intertwined with many threads of spiritual and cultural affinity.

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“The Armenian-Lebanese friendship stems from Antelias, Burj Hamud and Ainchar down to the bust of the world-famous Lebanese writer, philosopher and art figure Jubran Khalil Jubran near Beirut Street at the heart of Yerevan. Indeed, all this is best relished by thousands of Lebanese Armenians with their peaceful and creative activities, devotion to Lebanon and filial love for Armenia,” Sargsyan said.

“While walking down Beirut streets, the Armenian breath exists everywhere. I feel great pride that our compatriots have been able to manifest themselves as dignified and law-abiding Lebanese citizens in all areas of public life, contributing thus to the development and prosperity of Lebanon. And I feel grateful to the people of Lebanon and the Lebanese authorities for the opportunity of self-assertion granted to the Armenians,” he continued.

He praised the Haigazian University whose graduates, according to the President, continue to provide a lifeline for Armenian communities in the region and around the world.

President Sargsyan expressed gratitude to friend Lebanon for standing by the Armenian people during the tragic events of history and accommodating a portion of Genocide survivors.

“Unfortunately, the Middle East is experiencing new tragedies that reaffirm that the philosophy of the Armenian Genocide is still persistent in the 21st century, and that our struggle to prevent them is not yet over.

He expressed Armenia’s readiness to support Lebanon.

“The well-known Arab saying states that a true friend is a single soul in two bodies. I think this is best characterized by the Armenian-Lebanese relations, where there are no unsolvable issues, where the sides’ mutual understanding serves the welfare and sustainable development of our two peoples,” Sargsyan said.

In turn, Aoun thanked President Sargsyan for a warm welcome, stressing that this was his first trip to Armenia and, while being an official-political visit, it bears a special character.

“Going through this land, burdened with historical faith and martyrdom, cannot be a simple or traditional outing. We had chosen two monuments as the evidence of that history. Yesterday we visited the Mother Cathedral of Echmiadzin, one of the oldest churches in the world, where we had a feeling of firmness of faith, which made the Armenian people a champion among the world’s nations, proclaimed its identity and belief in the first centuries. It required courage and sacrifice when Roman persecution reached their peak.

“The second is the monument to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, where the heartbeat is accelerating to the brutal images of children, women and men who stand out as the reflection of heroism, sufferings and wounds against the backdrop of an eternal fire,” Aoun said. “These horrific scenes expose the idea of destruction with which the entire Orient was consumed at the outset of the twentieth century. …. Our two peoples were victims of that idea. The Armenians were killed with the sword, the Lebanese people through famine. Unfortunately, that same mentality once again has appeared in recent years, leading to hundreds of thousands of victims. Undoubtedly, the failure to face history and the lack of accountability for the past deeds is an incentive for today’s massacres,” Aoun said.

He thanked Sargsyan for the warm welcome.

“Let me raise my glass to the wellbeing of both countries and peoples, to the true peace that should be based on tolerance, the respect of others’ right to dignified life and freedom,” he said.

“I must say that the Armenian community had a great contribution to Lebanon’s development and prosperity. They are quite seriously engaged in all fields of their activity and responsible circles. We rely on them very much in all fields. We are a broad society, and the Armenian community managed to maintain their culture and identity in Lebanon. Of course, we attach importance to and are proud of this pluralism and cultural diversity since we are able to benefit from them and develop Lebanon,” Aoun said.

He returned to Lebanon later in the week.

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