Russian, Armenian leaders to talk trade, energy, Caucasus
Square of Russia unveiled in Armenian capital: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05LdeJ_wcHM
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will discuss trade, energy and conflict in the South Caucasus with his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sargisyan, at talks in Armenia on October 21, a Kremlin official said. Bilateral trade grew 13%, year-on-year, in the first eight months of 2008 to reach $536.5 million, the Kremlin said earlier. Russia is a leading trade partner of Armenia and is one of the biggest investors in the country's economy, with accrued investment from Russia topping $1.6 billion from 1991 to July 1, 2008. The parties will also focus on joint energy projects and the industrial development of uranium deposits in Armenia, the official said earlier. At their talks in the capital Yerevan, the presidents will also discuss the situation in the South Caucasus following Russia's brief war with Georgia, and other pressing international issues. Russia recognized South Ossetia along with Georgia's other breakaway region Abkhazia as independent states on August 26, after it forced out Georgian troops that had tried to retake control of South Ossetia. Tensions remain high in the region, and Georgia continues to demand that Russia withdraw its troops from the two republics. In September Armenia and other countries in the post-Soviet alliance Commonwealth of Independent States announced their support for Russia over its conflict with Georgia, but stopped short of recognizing the two provinces. Ex-Soviet Armenia is itself locked in a bitter territorial conflict with Azerbaijan. Armenia receives most of its gas from Russia. The tiny Caucasus nation has high unemployment and widespread poverty. Its economic problems are aggravated by a trade embargo, imposed by neighboring Turkey and ex-Soviet Azerbaijan since the dispute over Nagorny Karabakh. Russia has a military base in Gyumri in Armenia.
Medvedev pushes ties on Armenia visit
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pushed to strengthen longstanding ties with Armenia on a visit Tuesday, amid shifting political currents in the turbulent Caucasus after August's war in Georgia. Ahead of talks with Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian, Medvedev presided at the renaming of a central Yerevan square as Russia Square, saying: "We want the Armenian people to live in a strong, flourishing and stable state. "I am sure the Armenian people also wish us peace, power and well-being." A Kremlin official said talks between the two leaders would examine "the situation in the Caucasus that has resulted from the Georgian regime's aggression against South Ossetia" -- the separatist zone at the centre of the Georgia-Russia war in August. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the leaders were also to discuss the simmering conflict over Nagorny Karabakh, a territory inside Azerbaijan that Armenia took control of in a war in the 1990s. Russia's Izvestia daily said that of the three nations of the South Caucasus, Armenia, home to a Russian military base, stood out for its loyalty to Moscow. "Russia is essentially the only path to the outside world" for Armenia, the newspaper said, noting the country's relative isolation due to poor relations with neighbours Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, some observers believe the conflict over South Ossetia, which disrupted gas supplies to Armenia, may be spurring Armenia to seek other supporters in addition to Russia. Armenia took an ambiguous stance on the conflict and refused to follow Moscow's lead in recognising the independence of the rebel Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Armenia is increasingly being courted by Western powers, including the United States and long-time foe Turkey, a big NATO power in the region. Armenia has been visited in recent days by a top US diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, following a historic visit in September by Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Gul's trip to watch a football match was the first time a Turkish head of state had visited Armenia, reflecting long bitterness over Armenian accusations that mass killings of Armenians under Ottoman Turkey amounted to genocide. Turkey was closely involved in diplomatic efforts over the August war in Georgia, proposing a new format for diplomacy it dubbed a "Platform for Cooperation and Stability in the Caucasus." On Monday the Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta said Moscow had been angered by Armenia's less than full support in the conflict with Georgia, saying that "Russian-Armenian relations have left the phase of serenity."
Armenian, Russian presidents attend gala ceremony in Yerevan
The presidents of Armenia and Russia have attended a gala ceremony of opening Square of Russia in Yerevan on Tuesday. The square is situated in the area between the buildings of the Yerevan Mayor's office and the city History Museum and the House of Moscow - a cultural and business center. In the beginning of the gala ceremony the national anthems of the two countries were played. Yerevan city mayor Ervand Zakharyan bid welcome to the Russian president on behalf of the people of Armenia and residents of Yerevan, in particular. "We look upon the Russian president’s visit to Armenia as an important event symbolizing strong friendship between the Russian and Armenian people," the Yerevan city mayor said in his welcoming speech. "The Armenian people historically regard the Russian state and its people as their closest friends, and today they believe they have a reliable friend and partner in all fields personified by Russia and its president," the mayor said. The capitals of the two countries - Yerevan and Moscow, have close relations of partnership in all fields and set a good example of cooperation between cities. The Armenian people deeply value mutual friendship that withstood the test of time. To reaffirm this friendship the Yerevan City Council made a decision to name the square in the city center, that has a key administrative importance, Square of Russia, the mayor said. Residents of Yerevan who attended the ceremony warmly greeted the two presidents who spoke at the ceremony. In his speech the Armenian president praised bonds of undying friendship between the Russian and Armenian people. "Throughout the entire history and despite hardships and mischief that befell us friendship between the two countries remained as strong as ever and became even stronger and more meaningful as centuries go by.” “The Great Russian people made a unique contribution to the treasury of the world civilization. The national flags of Armenia and Russia hoisted above this square are not only a symbol of our relations as allies, but personify our cultural and historical unity,” the Armenian president said. "Today, Square of Russia has become another symbol of faithfulness to age long fraternity and spiritual closeness of our people. It is like world famous St. Basil Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow with its unique side chapels, with one of them named after St. Gregory the Illuminator. Let Square of Russia be a favorite place the Armenian people and guests will enjoy and become another symbol of faithfulness to our friendship for the benefit of our countries and people," the Armenian president said. Upon completion of the ceremony Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sargsyan inaugurated a memorable plaque to commemorate the historic event.
Square of Russia unveiled in Armenian capital
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Armenian counterpart have opened the Square of Russia in the Armenian capital. At a solemn opening ceremony, Medvedev described the relations between his country and Armenia ‘an age-old friendship’. “The square we are now in was named after our country,” he said. “It is with deep gratitude that we see this as a sign of respect towards modern democratic Russia and its people. Also, it is a sign of respect for our common history, a recognition of the immense value of our age-old friendship.” Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said at the ceremony that he hopes the Square will become a symbol of devotion and friendship between the allied nations. The statements came ahead of face to face talks between the countries’ presidents. The leaders are expected to discuss economic, humanitarian and global economic issues.
And to impress Armenians of the Diaspora... In a highly symbolic gesture to show that Russia supports Armenian claims against Turkey, president Medvedev made a highly significant appearance at the Armenian Genocide memorial complex at Tsitsernakaberd where he viewed historic archives and photographs of the tragedy at the on-site museum. President Medvedev was also photographed watering a newly planted tree at the complex in accordance with tradition. Earlier this year on his working visit to Armenia president of Iran Ahmadinejad, mindful of Tehran's close relations with Turkey, avoided making such an appearance at Tsitsernakaberd, unexpectedly leaving Armenia a day ahead of schedule. The puzzling part for me is this; Russia is a much bigger trading partner with Turkey than Iran is and Moscow has very warm relations with Ankara. Why did the Iranian flee Armenia when the Armenian Genocide was brought up and the Russian did not?
President Medvedev at the Armenian Genocide Memorial
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) visits a museum commemorating those who died in the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Yerevan October 21, 2008. Russia said on Tuesday it hoped to bring together leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss their dispute over breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh, as Moscow vies with the West for influence in the Caucasus region.
Visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev lays a wreath at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008. Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1919 in what is now eastern Turkey. Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev waters a tree at Memory Alley near the Genocide Museum in Yerevan on October 21, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pushed to strengthen longstanding ties with Armenia on a visit, amid shifting political currents in the turbulent Caucasus after August's war in Georgia.