Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with Acting Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia Ara Ayvazyan, Yerevan, May 6, 2021
Mr Ayvazyan, Friends,
First of all, I would like to say that we are happy to be in Yerevan again. We appreciate traditional Armenian hospitality and the excellent organisation of our meetings.
Today’s talks are a continuation of the intensive political dialogue between Moscow and Yerevan. This year President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan met for two rounds of full talks in Moscow in January and in April. A few days ago, on April 29, in Kazan, the heads of government of our two countries discussed a number of bilateral cooperation issues on the sidelines of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting. The co-chairs of the Russia-Armenia Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk and Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Mher Grigoryan, maintain close interaction.
With regard to our foreign ministries, we have regular trust-based consultations on interaction issues within the CIS, CSTO and the EAEU. Talks have been scheduled on European and Euro-Atlantic topics as well as our countries’ relations with the countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the issues of the Middle East and North Africa.
We have been cooperating closely since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia is assisting Armenia in stopping the spread of the coronavirus infection. A Sputnik V vaccine shipment has been delivered at no cost. Last month another shipment of 15,000 doses of this vaccine arrived. More shipments are planned, and our Armenian friends’ request regarding the supply of one million doses is under consideration.
Russia remains Armenia’s major trade partner. Last year trade exceeded $2.3 billion, Russian investments total about $2.1 billion, which is 40 percent of the total foreign investment in the Armenian economy.
Humanitarian cooperation is traditionally an important area of bilateral cooperation. At present, over 5,000 Armenian nationals study in Russia, with about 2,000 of them on Russian state grants. In addition, around 5,000 students study in Yerevan – at Russian-Armenian University and six branches of Russian universities. Regarding humanitarian cooperation, let me note that the regular, seventh Russian-Armenian Youth Forum is scheduled for June 8-11 in Moscow.
The coming year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 25th anniversary of the basic bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance. I hope that today we will discuss steps to properly celebrate these two anniversaries.
We welcome the idea to install a monument in Yerevan to Russian and Armenian peoples’ friendship. Two weeks ago, a memorial to Soviet architect Karo Alabyan was unveiled in Moscow as a token of our peoples’ closely intertwined destinies.
We have been witnessing progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. The situation on the ground has significantly improved. The Russian peacekeeping contingent serves as a guarantor of security. It is deployed along the line of contact and along the Lachin Corridor. Insignificant incidents, which are an invariable part of any operation, are promptly and effectively settled by our service personnel. They continue to make progress in the POW swap. Almost 53,000 refugees went back to their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh. Inter-agency humanitarian response centre staff render medical assistance to the population, and help to restore buildings and destroyed infrastructure.
The objectives set by the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to lift the blockade from transport and economic ties in the region, are being successfully pursued. The trilateral task force at the deputy prime minister level has been operating effectively and as scheduled. We are interested in continuing this work to contribute to establishing a dialogue between Baku and Yerevan and providing for the sustainable economic development of the South Caucasus.
At your request (you mentioned this in your opening remarks) the Government of the Russian Federation is considering the issues of delivering, transporting and assembling prefabricated houses for the refugees.
We are closely interacting within Eurasian integration mechanisms. This is being assisted by the implementation of the conceptual documents that have been adopted within the CIS and EAEU – the CIS 2030 Economic Development Strategy and the Strategy for Developing Eurasian Economic Integration until 2025.
In November, Armenia will assume the presidency at the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). We shall give you any support for your plans to enhance our military-political and military-technical cooperation.
I would like to emphasise our satisfaction with the traditionally close interaction with our Armenian allies in international and regional venues. I believe that continuing our foreign policy coordination is an important challenge under today’s escalating international processes.
Thank you again for this meeting and for your hospitality. I am sure that our talks will be useful.