Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, with President Armen Sarkisian

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Visits Armenia

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL, Armenpress) — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke of “more dynamic” relations with Moscow as he met with Russia’s visiting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Yerevan on Monday, November 11.

“The last time you were on an official visit to Yerevan was two years ago. During this period great changes have taken place in Armenia. I want to emphasize that as a result of these changes our relations have become more dynamic,” said Pashinyan, who came to power in May 2018 as a result of peaceful street protests described by many in Armenia as a “velvet revolution.”

Lavrov, for his part, also noted that changes in Armenia have not obstructed “the continuity in bilateral relations and development of allied and strategic partnership in all fields.”

“We see very close contacts between our countries’ economic departments; intergovernmental commissions are getting ready for work in Yerevan in the first half of next year. Yerevan will also host a Russian-Armenian inter-regional forum… Our departments are actively contacting each other,” Lavrov said.

Later on Monday Lavrov held a joint press conference in Yerevan with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.

Speaking about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Lavrov said that no agreements can be formalized in the settlement of the issue without the consent of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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“Everyone understands that without the consent of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh it will not be possible to formalize agreements. Armenia will simply not sign them,” said Lavrov, adding that during his meeting with Pashinyan the Armenian prime minister said that “final agreements should take into account the interests of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan.”

“And it is hard to argue with that,” said the Russian foreign minister.

Biological Lab Access

During the press conference it was also announced that in the near future Yerevan and Moscow will sign a memorandum that will allow Russian specialists to access biological laboratories established in Armenia with US assistance.

Russia long has pushed for access to three biological labs in Armenia, which have been sponsored by the United States. Some Russian media have alleged that the laboratories could have been involved in military research, something that Armenia has denied.

Lavrov also pledged that Russia will help normalize ties between Armenia and Turkey.

Lavrov arrived in Armenia on November 10. The same day in Yerevan together with his Armenian counterpart Mnatsakanyan he attended the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the approaching 75th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

In his remarks Lavrov highlighted the role of Armenians in the fight against Nazism.

“The Armenian people are rightfully proud of their heroes, who made an invaluable contribution to the common cause of the defeat of Nazism,” Lavrov said.

According to Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mnatsakanyan, for his part, stressed that “May 9 is our common holiday, our common day of remembrance of how we fought shoulder to shoulder and strove together towards victory.”

“This victory is the joint achievement of all the peoples of the former Soviet Union, as well as the nations of the anti-Hitler coalition. This is truly a world holiday, as the Great Patriotic War – the Second World War was a struggle for the future of mankind,” Mnatsakanyan added.

He emphasized that Armenians have a special attitude towards Victory Day and the heroism displayed by the people of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War. “The Armenian Diaspora also took part in the fight against Nazism. Its representatives were part of Resistance movements, fought as part of Allied forces, raised funds to help the Red Army,” Mnatsakanyan stressed.

Later, President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian hosted Lavrov and his delegation, the Presidential Office told Armenpress.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Yerevan

Welcoming him as an old friend, Sarkissian said relations between Armenia and Russia are dynamically developing. He stated that Lavrov as a foreign minister played a key role in the strengthening of the Armenian-Russian friendship. The Armenian President remembered his first meeting with Lavrov 25 years ago in New York when the latter was serving as Russia’s permanent representative in the UN, and thanked him for the support provided to the Armenian diplomats in the UN.

Sarkissian conveyed his warm greetings to the Russian President Vladimir Putin and readiness to see him again in Armenia.

In his turn the Russian FM thanked for the warm welcome and also conveyed the warm wishes of the Russian leader to the Armenian President. “This shows our firm commitment to deepen the allied relations and strategic partnership in all spheres,” Lavrov said.

Talking about the cooperation prospects, Sarkissian introduced several events to take place in Armenia next year within the frames of presidential initiatives, such as the Armenian Summit of Minds, STARMUS 6th international festival. In particular, Armen Sarkissian touched upon the ATOM (Advanced Tomorrow) presidential initiative on science and technology development in Armenia. The program aims at bringing major foreign technological companies to Armenia making the country one of the leading centers in artificial intelligence and math modeling. “We expect an active cooperation also with the Russian companies and educational institutions on the sidelines of this project,” the Armenian President said.

The Russian FM welcomed all these initiatives which are directed for expanding the bilateral contacts and strengthening the relations.

Finally,  Lavrov visited the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan.

He was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Shavarsh Kocharyan and Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute Harutyun Marutyan.

Lavrov laid a wreath and paid tribute to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, and then watered a spruce tree which he had planted at the Memory Park 12 years earlier.

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