Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte, left, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Rome

Pashinyan Visits Italy, Makes Stop at Flood-Ravaged Mekhitarist Monastery in Venice


ROME (Armenpress) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who went to Italy on an official visit, held high-level talks in Rome with Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte on November 22.

The meeting of the Prime Ministers of Armenia and Italy took place at the Kigi Palace in Rome, the official residence of the Italian Prime Minister.

Later, the two held a private meeting, during which they discussed the course of the Armenian-Italian relations and prospects for development.

During the wide-ranging talks following the private conversation, the Armenian and Italian prime ministers referred to a wide range of issues of bilateral cooperation. The Italian Prime Minister expressed his country’s support for Armenia’s democratic agenda, underlining that Italy is ready to cooperate closely with Armenia and provide the necessary assistance in the rule of law, justice reforms and democratic institutions.

Expressing gratitude for such readiness and Italy’s already significant participation in the formation of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Armenian Prime Minister also emphasized the active participation of Italian companies in the economic activity.

The Armenian prime minister expressed satisfaction with Italy’s stance on launching negotiations with the EU on visa liberalization, presenting the improving migration picture in Armenia.

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Pashinyan and Conte also expressed their satisfaction with the Armenian-Italian cultural and educational cooperation and noted the effectiveness of the exchange programs between the universities of the two countries. In the context of deepening cultural ties, Pashinyan attached importance to the exchange of rich experience with Italy in the field of archeology.

The heads of governments of Armenia and Italy have had extensive discussions on current issues of international security, the situation in Syria. Pashinyan presented the humanitarian mission carried out there by Armenia. The sides have agreed their positions on restoring stability in Syria. The prime ministers of Armenia and Italy also touched upon other regional security issues, exchanged views on EU-Iran relations, Armenia-Iran relations and the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement. The two prime ministers stressed the importance of cooperation in the UN Human Rights Council.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, with Armenia’s Ambassador to Italy Victoria Baghdasaryan in Milan

Italy is interested in the peaceful settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict and establishment of stability in the region, Conte announced following the meeting with Pashinyan.

“We are confident it’s possible to achieve a solution only by dialogue. The political will can lead to a lasting solution. The peoples should prepare for peace and realize the advantages that the peaceful settlement of the conflict will give. We are ready to contribute to the continuation of the negotiations and bringing stability to the region by all means. Italy is interested in de-escalation of situation and productive negotiations,” Conte announced.

Trade and economy were also major components of the official visit. Italy is Armenia’s second largest trade partner in the European Union, Pashinyan told Conte.

“We dedicated an important time of our negotiations to trade and economic relations. I am glad to mentioned that this year we have recorded tangible improvement in this direction. I recorded that at the moment Italy is our 2nd trade partner in the EU. I am glad to note that there are all the necessary preconditions for giving new breath to Armenian-Italian economic relations. Armenia’s membership to the Eurasian Economic Union and close cooperation with the EU create good opportunities for attracting investments,” Pashinyan said.

He discussed with Conte the Armenian-Italian economic forum that took place on November 21 in the financial and industrial capital of Italy, Milan.

San Lazzaro degli Armeni, the island home to the Mekhitarist Monastery, is flooded.

“We both highly assessed the works of the Armenian-Italian intergovernmental commission and expressed confidence that by joint efforts it will be possible to hold the second session of the commission in Yerevan in a short period of time. We referred to the opportunities of developing tourism cooperation. We highlighted the implementation of direct Rome-Yerevan and Milan-Yerevan flights by Ryanair, which will greatly contribute to the development of tourism and business relations. We also highlighted the importance of maintaining the cultural heritage of one another,” Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan was pleased with the visit.

“I am glad to be in Italy for the first time on an official visit. I want to thank Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for the warm reception of the Armenian delegation,” Pashinyan said.

He emphasized that he highly appreciates the decision of the Chamber of deputies of Italy made in April of this year to recognize the Armenian Genocide. By this step the Italian side reaffirmed its devotion to universal values and contributed to the prevention of genocides and other c crimes against humanity.

An unexpected issue affecting both the Italian and Armenian governments was the flooding in Venice, home not only to untold Italian treasures, but the San Lazzaro degli Armeni, the island home to the Mekhitarist Monastery. The Italian government will provide assistance to a number of structures affected by floods in Venice, including the Armenia’s Ambassador to Italy Victoria Baghdasaryan told reporters.

“At this moment it is difficult to mention specific figures regarding the inflicted damages by floods at the San Lazzaro island, however two days ago the Italian parliament adopted a law which has listed the structures and buildings whom the Italian government will provide support for restoration,” she said.

The recent floods in Venice were the most severe ones in the past 50 years.

When Pashinyan arrived in Italy on an official visit on November 20, his first stop was the Mekhitarist Monastery on the flooded San Lazzaro island to express support.

The role of the Mekhitarist Congregation is invaluable, Pashinyan said at the meeting with Papal Legate for the Mekhitarist Congregation of Venice, Primate of the Armenian Catholic Church of Turkey, Archbishop Levon Zekiyan.

“It’s a great honor for me to be here. I am sorry that the reason for my visit is connected with the recent flood, but on the other hand I am happy that no irreversible damage was caused. The Mekhitarist Congregation plays a great role. At a time when our identity was about to the eliminated in the homeland, the Congregation became the place where our history, science, language and art were studied. It became an important scientific center to communicate with our roots. I am very excited to be here. I am confident that the Mekhitarist Congregation, as a symbolic monument of science and culture, will continue playing its practical role for a long time,” Pashinyan said.

Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan also traveled to the island with the premier.

The Armenian delegation was greeted by Federico Caner, Veneto regional minister EU Programs, Tourism and International Trade, Armenia’s Ambassador to the Holy See Garen Nazarian and Armenian Honorary Consul to Veneto Gagik Sarukhanyan.

A narrow-format meeting was held with the Mekhitarists. Pashinyan toured the monastery and signed the “Golden Book.”

The Mkhitarian or Mekhitarist Congregation was founded by Mkhitar Sebastatsi at Constantinople in 1701. The Congregation found its way to Saint Lazarus Island in Venice in 1717, turning the island into a unique religious, educational, scientific and cultural place.
As part of his visit, Pashinyan met with the members of the Armenian community in Milan.

Pashinyan invited Conte to pay an official visit to Armenia.

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