Serzh Sargsyan visiting Moscow - March, 2008

Although there are a few wrinkles that need to be ironed out, for better or for worst, Armenia's future lies with the Russian Federation. Why Russia? Besides the centuries long history between Armenians and Russians, besides the fact that due to a Russian presence in the region there is an Armenia in the Caucasus today - Armenians need to understand that the twenty-first century potentially belongs to Russia. This is in essence why we are currently seeing a frenzy of activity in the West that seeks to contain and undermine the Russian Federation throughout Eurasia. What's more, Armenians need to understand that Russia is a natural bulwark against pan-Turkism, western imperialism and Sunni fundamentalism.

I am very glad that the "Hanrapetakan" party in Armenia, represented today by president elect Serzh Sargsyan, has had the strategic foresight to make sure that Armenia remains firmly within Moscow's sphere of influence. Concurrently, I am grateful that Moscow continues to realize the vital strategic importance of the Armenian Republic within the Caucasus. Why is Armenia important for Russia? For geostrategic reasons, namely to keep NATO, Islamists, Turks and Iranians out of the Caucasus and to secure its oil/gas distribution networks. Moscow needs Armenia as a powerful state in the region. And, as noted above - for geostrategic, economic and survival reasons - Armenia needs Russia. The fact of the matter is, the West has no real interests within the tiny, landlocked and resource-less Armenian Republic other than to make sure official Yerevan does not interfere in their regional projects. The West's interest in the region is primarily the exploitation of Caspian Sea basin oil and gas, keeping Turkey within its sphere of influence and keeping Russia out of the Caucasus.

Needless to say, without the Russian factor at play in the Caucasus, the every existence of the Armenian nation can be at risk. For the West, Armenia is simply a geopolitical obstacle, a nuisance. Thus, the formula that promotes Russo-Armenian relations today is relatively a simple one: For Russia, Armenia is a strategic gate, a foothold in the Caucasus, that it has to protect for its national interests. For Armenia, Russia is a sustainer that it needs to stay alive in a very volatile and complicated geopolitical environment. For a small, landlocked and resources-less nation surrounded by historic enemies in an increasingly complicated world, Armenia has no other option but to place its long-term and short-term hopes on Mother Russia. May God bless the Russo-Armenian alliance.

Arevordi

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Serzh Sargsyan visiting Moscow

March, 2008

On March 23-24, Armenia's president-elect Serzh Sargsyan is having a first working visit. Sargsyan is visiting Moscow, where he is meeting with president of Russia Vladimir Putin, president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, and prime minister Viktor Zubkov, REGNUM was informed at the Kremlin's press office. The meetings are expected to be held on Monday. According to the source, issues of cooperation between Armenia and Russia within CSTO and security issues in Transcaucasia are being discussed. Inauguration of Serzh Sargsyan is due on April 9. Presidential election in Armenia was held on February 18, 2008. Prime minister of Armenia, leader of Republican Party Serzh Sargsyan won the vote with 52.86% of ballots.

ARMENIA SEEKS STRONGER TIES WITH RUSSIA

Serzh Sarkisan, whose controversial election as president of Armenia precipitated political violence in Yerevan, is hoping closer ties with Russia can hasten a return of stability in the South Caucasus country. Sarkisian -- the current prime minister who is scheduled to be inaugurated as President Robert Kocharian’s successor on April 9 -- flew to Moscow on March 24 for meetings with Russia’s presidential tandem, outgoing chief executive/incoming prime minister Vladimir Putin and president-elect Dmitry Medvedev. Already Russia’s closest ally in the region, Sarkisian said he was committed to “deepening and expanding” Armenian-Russian ties. He also expressed gratitude for Moscow’s support of the Armenian government’s handling of the political crisis in Yerevan. "We always felt your assistance in the election process," Sarkisian said during a meeting with Putin. “To be honest, we never expected such clear-cut” support.

Putin and Medvedev seemed happy to take the Armenian leader up on his offer of closer relations. “This is your first visit after the elections, and, of course, we see special symbolism in this fact,” Medvedev said. Putin, meanwhile, clearly indicated that Armenia’s current domestic difficulties would not hamper the Kremlin’s ability to do business with Sarkisian. “I know that political processes in Armenia are complicated,” Putin acknowledged. The Russian leader then expressed confidence that “no matter how the internal political process in Armenia unfolds, what has been built in the past years in relations between the Russian Federation and Armenia will be maintained and will develop in the future.” Sarkisian indicated that his incoming administration would seek to quickly restore a sense of stability in the country, pledging to create “an atmosphere of tolerance.” The centerpiece of his emerging stabilization program is an initiative to boost social welfare and economic opportunity.

The two countries have been doing a lot of business in recent years. Trade between Russia and Armenia reached $800 million in 2007, marking a 60 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Russian official statistics. Moscow voiced expectations that bilateral commerce would top $1 billion in the near future. Trade between Russia and Armenia has been hampered by transportation bottlenecks. For over a year, Sarkisian has been lobbying Russian officials to expedite the opening of ferry service connecting Russian Black Sea ports and the Georgian city of Poti, a move that would ease Armenia’s transport woes. Moscow’s recent decision to ease transport restriction with Georgia could revive hopes that ferry service could begin soon.

One notable bilateral trade development occurred February 6, when Atomredmetzoloto, a uranium mining subsidiary of Russia's nuclear monopoly Rosatom, created a joint venture in Armenia to develop uranium reserves estimated at 30,000-60,000 tons. The deal was clinched during a visit to Armenia of the Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, who was accompanied by Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom. In Yerevan, Kiriyenko pledged to participate in a tender to build a new nuclear power plant in Armenia. The initial estimated cost of the project is $1 billion. Zubkov and his Armenian counterpart Sarkisian also inked an agreement covering Armenia's participation in the International Enrichment Center in Angarsk, in Russia's Irkutsk region.

One potential trouble spot in relations centers on energy supplies. Armenian officials have hoped to ensure, through their expressions of loyalty to Moscow, that the Kremlin-controlled energy conglomerate Gazprom would give Armenia a preferential price for gas. Armenia currently pays $110 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) and this contract price remains effective till January 1, 2009. That price is far lower than what some other former Soviet states pay Gazprom. Yet, even if Gazprom was inclined to maintain Armenia’s favorable rate, events now seem to mandate that Yerevan will face a substantial price increase in 2009. Gazprom’s recent pledge to pay “European market” prices to Central Asian producers means that the gas that it obtains from the region with cost the Russian company upwards of $300/tcm. It will have no choice, then, but to pass costs on to its customers.

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/department...v032708a.shtml


Sargsyan Wins Putin's Seal of Approval

President Vladimir Putin and Serzh Sargsyan on Monday pledged continuity in bilateral relations, as the Armenian president-elect made Moscow his first destination after being declared the winner in a controversial election last month. "I know that political processes in Armenia are not developing easily, but we very much hope that everything we have built up in bilateral relations in recent years will remain and develop further in the future, regardless of events inside Armenia," Putin said at the start of the talks in the Kremlin.

Sargsyan was elected in a Feb. 19 vote that the opposition says was rigged. The growing protests that followed were then violently dispersed by police and a 20-day state of emergency was imposed. The state of emergency ended last week. Sargsyan thanked Putin for Russia's support, including its backing in the run-up to the Armenian vote. "Both [Armenian President Robert Kocharyan] and our ambassador passed your personal messages on to me, and I will be honest: Never before have we witnessed such an unambiguous approach," he said. Sargsyan's trip comes on the heels of a visit by Kocharyan, who came to Moscow for an informal Commonwealth of Independent States summit on Feb. 22.

Putin congratulated Sargsyan, currently prime minister, on his victory, while Sargsyan said the election of First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as Putin's replacement in March instilled hope that the bilateral relations would continue to develop positively. Sargsyan met Medvedev earlier on Monday. Sargsyan is to be inaugurated on April 9, while the ceremony for Medvedev will take place on May 7. The talks between Putin and Sargsyan were to focus on expanding trade and economic relations, including nuclear cooperation, the Kremlin said in a statement on Monday. Armenia has been invited to join Russia's international uranium enrichment center in Angarsk and is expected to finalize its commitment in the near future.

Azhdar Kurtov, an analyst with the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, said continuity in relations with Yerevan was important for Moscow, as Armenia remains virtually its only ally in the South Caucasus. "Armenia has been successful so far in keeping the Caucasus from drifting toward the West or, rather, the south," said Kurtov, who focuses on the CIS. Landlocked Armenia borders Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Turkey, in a region that is becoming a key transit route for oil exports to European and world markets. Georgia and Azerbaijan have both said they are interested in NATO membership.

The difference between Moscow's relations with Armenia and its relationship with Georgia was evident, Kurtov said, from the Russian media coverage of postelection riots in Yerevan and of the earlier riots in Tbilisi. The disturbances and the police reaction in Armenia have received much less coverage than did the events in Georgia, he said. Armenia, which hosts a Russian military base, is part of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, a regional body aimed at strengthening military and political ties. Armenia will take over the chairmanship of the organization this fall.

Russian investment in Armenia totaled about $1 billion at the end of 2007, a year that saw trade between the countries top $800 million, the Kremlin said, adding that a figure of $1 billion was a realistic forecast for the near future. In a standard indication of good relations between the countries, the Kremlin said Armenia would host a series of Russian cultural events this year, while Russia would host a "Season of Armenian Culture" in 2009. Despite the pledges of continued friendship, however, Gazprom is soon likely to significantly hike the prices that Armenia pays it for gas, analysts have said. Armenia currently pays a mere $110 per thousand cubic meters.

Source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/storie...03/25/003.html

Putin: Russian-Armenian relations entering new level


“Despite the hard times in the political process in Armenia, Armenian-Russian are going to develop at a new level,” president of Russia Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Armenia's president-elect Serzh Sargsyan in Kremlin. Vladimir Putin said at the meeting that he is informed of complicated internal political processes in Armenia. Nevertheless, he observed, Russia hopes that, regardless the course of internal political events in Armenia, “everything that has been created in the preceding years, is preserved and developed in the future.” Sargsyan, for his part, said that Armenia needs to further develop relations with Russia. “We have always appreciated your help to Armenia,” Sargsyan noticed. To remind, Sargsyan has already met on March 24 with Russia's president-elect Dmitry Medvedev. He is also expected to meet with prime minister Viktor Zubkov and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/975875.html

Sargsyan: Armenia to develop relations with Russia in all fields


President-elect Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia met in Kremlin Monday. Welcoming the guest, Mr Medvedev said, “This visit testifies the high level of the Russian-Armenian ties. I hope for further development of our relations.” “Armenia is willing to develop relations with Russia in all fields on the basis of existing agreements,” the RA President-elect remarked. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his First Deputy Andrey Denivos also attended the meeting, NEWSru.com reports.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=25472


Yuri Luzhkov: Moscow among Armenia’s major partners


Last year the commodity turnover between Moscow and Armenia increased by 65 per cent, Moscow’s Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said at a meeting with Armenia’s President-elect Serzh Sargsyan. “In the initial half of 2007 the turnover amounted to $70,5 million, increasing by 65 per cent during the year,” he said, adding that Moscow is one of Armenia’s major partners. “We opened the House of Moscow in Yerevan where entrepreneurs can get all necessary information for establishing their business in Armenia. A new wholesale center will open in Moscow soon. A new Armenian Church will be built,” the Mayor said. He also congratulated Serzh Sargsyan on election President of Armenia, wished him every success at the post and voiced hope for further development of the Armenian-Russian strategic partnership, Novosti Armenia reports.


Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=25477

V. ZUBKOV: “ARMENIA CAN ALWAYS RELY ON RUSSIA”


The labor visit of the president-elect Prime Minister of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan in the Russian Federation is over. Yesterday in the evening he returned back to Yerevan. Before his return he had a meeting with the Prime Minister of the RF Viktor Zubkov. According to the Government public relations department, Zubkov congratulated Serzh Sargsyan for his victory in the presidential elections. He said that he was sure Sargsyan’s experience and skills in the state governing sphere will contribute to the salvation of the problems. “We sincerely wish our friend and relative Armenia to be developed. And Armenia can always rely on Russia’s support,” mentioned Zubkov. The Prime Minister of the RF highly evaluated the activities carried out by Serz Sargsyan in the development and improvement of the Armenia-Russian inter-governmental committee. Note that Serzh Sargsyan had meetings with the president of Russia Vladimir Putin, the new president Dmitry Medvedev, and the mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzjkov.

Source: http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2008/03/25/gov/

Putin hopes to develop relations with Armenia


Russian outgoing President Vladimir Putin said he hopes to develop relations with Armenia despite the difficult political situation in the republic. In his meeting with Armenian president-elect Serzh Sarkisyan on Monday, President Putin said, “Despite the difficult political situation in Armenia, I hope that relations will develop dynamically.” “We hope that whatever the internal political situation develops in Armenia what we did in the previous years we’ll continue to develop in the future,” the Russian outgoing president said. Putin congratulated Sarkisyan on the convincing victory in the presidential elections. The Armenian president-elect said his country “needs further development of relations with Russia”. “We’ve always praised your assistance in the pre-election campaign,” Putin told Sarkisyan. “Both the president (Robert Kocharyan) and our ambassador (to Russia) gave me your message. I can say we’d never felt such approach,” Sarkisyan said. He also expressed hope for further development of cooperation with Russia. “We know Dmitry Medvedev as your like-minded person. Armenia hopes that his taking office will facilitate the development of relations between the two countries. We need further strengthening of cooperation,” Sarkisyan said.

Source: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2....9712&PageNum=0

Russia and Armenia are to move on in strategic partnership


The newly elected Armenian president made Russia its first official visit. The two countries are to deepen relations. Yesterday the new Armenian president Serge Sarkisian visited Moscow. The Russian and Armenian presidents discussed the wide range of bilateral cooperation in political, military and other spheres. The two countries share the same opinions in lots of international problems. Yesterday in the focus of attention was Nagorno-Karabakh issue and trade-economic relations, strengthening on the gas cooperation. Russia and Armenia are bound with strategic partnership relations. Russia satisfies all Armenian gas needs and has one third of all investments in Armenia. Russia is keeping a military base in Armenia.

Source:
http://www.russia-ic.com/news/show/6023/

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