Germany’s Merkel Praises ‘Deepening’ Ties With Armenia

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BERLIN (RFE/RL) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed Germany’s increased cooperation with Armenia and significant changes in the South Caucasus state when she met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Berlin on Thursday, February 13.

It was their third meeting in 18 months.

Merkel noted with satisfaction that German-Armenian relations have “intensified” since her previous talks with Pashinyan held in August 2018 in Yerevan and in February 2019 in Berlin.

“We will continue to talk today about deepening bilateral relations,” she said in a statement to the press made at the start of their latest meeting.

Merkel stressed that “a lot has changed in Armenia” since Pashinyan swept to power in the “Velvet Revolution” of April-May 2019.

“There is a parliamentary democracy, elections have been held, and there is also a major renewal process … for example in the legal system,” she said. “We naturally hope that Armenia will be very successful here because that’s not an easy process.”

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“We are therefore very happy about your courage and your determination to follow this path,” she told Pashinyan.

“Germany is a close friend and partner of Armenia and we feel the power of that friendship in both emotional and practical senses,” Pashinyan said for his part. “Germany is one of the powerful bridges connecting Armenia to the European Union, European civilization and culture.”

He added, “I would like to emphasize Germany’s support for reforms in Armenia. We are grateful for the moral, political, expert and financial support of Germany and the European Union. It is essential to ensure the irreversibility of democracy in our country and to strengthen the rule of law for this purpose and to reform economic and political institutions.

“In 2018 Armenia transitioned to a parliamentary system of government and Germany is a very important and successful model for us as an effective, strong parliamentary government with clear counterbalance and compromise mechanisms in place and where democracy has long been in doubt. is irreversible historically. In this regard, our relations with Germany are very important, and today we are going to talk to Mrs. Chancellor about the current developments in Armenia, our reform agenda, including, as we have said before, about making democracy in Armenia institutionally strong and irreversible, and this is very much is an important conversation,” Pashinyan noted.

An Armenian government statement issued after the talks said Merkel promised continued German assistance to “democratic reforms” in Armenia. It said Pashinyan briefed her on his political team’s controversial decision to hold on April 5 a referendum on dismissing seven of the nine members of Armenia’s Constitutional Court.

Economic issues were also high on the agenda of the talks, according to the statement. Pashinyan was reported to urge German companies to invest in various sectors of the Armenian economy.

Germany is already Armenia’s number European Union donor and trading partner. It has provided the South Caucasus nation with hundreds of millions euros in aid and low-interest loans since the 1990s. German-Armenian trade rose by over 4 percent, to $451 million, last year, according to official Armenian statistics.

In her public remarks, Merkel said she will also discuss with Pashinyan the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Armenian government statement on the talks made no mention of the conflict.

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