Foreign visits

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Working Visit to Lebanon

20.10.2018 - 21.10.2018

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Today, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan arrived in Lebanon on a working visit. After the official welcoming ceremony, headed by Nikol Pashinyan, the Armenian delegation left for the Lebanese President’s Residence where he met with the President of Lebanon.

Nikol Pashinyan thanked President Michel Aoun for a warm reception, noting that he was glad to pay a visit to fraternal Lebanon.

“Thank you for taking part in the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan just a week ago and delivering a very meaningful speech. About a month ago, we had am opportunity to meet in New York and exchange views on Armenian-Lebanese relations. We are now having a new opportunity for dialogue. After Armenia regained independence in 1991, our two nations’ bilateral relations and the centuries-old ties were given a new quality that we should use to strengthen our partnership and reach the common goals,” the Acting Prime Minister of Armenia said.

Welcoming Nikol Pashinyan to Lebanon, Michel Aoun said it might help promote and strengthen the traditionally friendly relations between the two countries. The Lebanese President complimented Nikol Pashinyan for organizing and holding the 17th summit of the Francophonie International Organization in Yerevan.

Pleased with the ongoing high-level political dialogue between Armenia and Lebanon, the interlocutors stressed that they were propped up by historical affinities and the active contribution of the Lebanese-Armenian community.

Nikol Pashinyan conveyed our nation’s gratitude for the Lebanese people’s warm attitude toward the Armenian Genocide survivors. “Lebanon is the only country in the region to have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. It is crucial in terms of both preserving historical memory and preventing new genocides.” The Acting Prime Minister stressed that Armenia and the Armenian people have a privileged attitude toward friendly Lebanon and its people as evidenced by the fact that the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia is in Lebanon.

In turn, the Lebanese President highly assessed the role played by the Lebanese-Armenian community in his country’s political, economic, social, cultural, educational and sporting life, as well as the development of friendship and friendship between the two countries and peoples.

The parties discussed opportunities for developing trade and economic exchanges between the two countries. “We have to synchronize our economic ties with the high-level political dialogue and human relations between our countries,” Nikol Pashinyan said. The Acting Prime Minister of Armenia introduced the measures taken by the Armenian Government to combat corruption, simplify tax and customs procedures, and create an investment-friendly climate.

The President of Lebanon expressed readiness to assist the two governments with the implementation of joint programs and initiatives.

The sides looked at ways of enhancing cooperation within international organizations. In this context, Nikol Pashinyan welcomed the initiative to establish the Human Academy in Lebanon as announced by the Lebanese President at the UN General Assembly session of September 21, 2017 in New York.

“Armenia welcomes Lebanon’s initiative to become a global hub liaising different civilizations, religions and human races, and is ready to back it. We are confident that Lebanon’s efforts and long experience for peaceful coexistence of different religions and nations could be instructive not only for individual countries, but also for the whole region,” Nikol Pashinyan said, convinced that the initiative will arouse great interest among Armenian students.

The Lebanese President thanked Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister for our country’s participation in the United Nations’ UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon.

Emphasizing that Armenia honors its international commitments, and highlighting the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Nikol Pashinyan expressed satisfaction with the fact that the UN Security Council has extended UNIFIL peacekeeping mission’s mandate for another year.

At the end of the meeting, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed the Book of Honorary Guests.

* * *

In the framework of his working visit to Lebanon, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Thankful for the warm reception, the Acting Prime Minister of Armenia praised the contribution made by the Lebanese Parliament Speaker to friendship-conducive initiatives.

Nabih Berri welcomed Nikol Pashinyan’s visit to Lebanon, noting that it would give fresh impetus to the friendly relations between the two countries.

The parties appreciated the role played by the vibrant Lebanese-Armenian community, which links the two countries and helps strengthen bilateral relations. Nikol Pashinyan noted that just as in the tragic moments of history, the friendly Lebanon continues to stand by Armenia, contributing thereby to the acknowledgement of the crime of genocide.

In turn, Nabih Berri highly appreciated the role and contribution of Lebanese Armenians in the development of his country. “Our brothers, the Armenians, have representatives in the Lebanese parliament and government, and are making valuable contribution to Lebanon’s progress,” he said.

Keen to see the furtherance of bilateral relations, the Acting Prime Minister of Armenia and the Lebanese Parliament Speaker highlighted the expansion of inter-parliamentary ties and the active work of friendship groups.

The Lebanese Parliament Speaker said Armenia could become a gateway to Europe for Lebanon, and Lebanon - a window to the Middle East for Armenia. In this context, he stressed that vigorous efforts need to be taken to achieve tangible results in that direction.

The parties exchanged views on the current political situation and developments in both countries. In the context of continued efforts to ensure regional security, Nikol Pashinyan and Nabih Berri highlighted Armenia’s participation in the United Nations’ UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

* * *

As part of his working visit to Lebanon, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Nikol Pashinyan thanked Saad Hariri for a warm welcome and hospitality. “This is my first visit to fraternal Lebanon, a country with rich history of ancient civilizations. I am convinced that the visit will help us promote the agenda of bilateral cooperation. Of course, your father, Rafik Hariri, who was a great friend of Armenia, made an invaluable contribution to the deepening and strengthening of ties between our countries.”

Saad Hariri noted that Lebanon highly appreciates the ongoing cooperation with friendly Armenia and is interested in its further strengthening. He appreciated the role played by the Lebanese-Armenian community in his country’s development, as well as in the furtherance of Armenian-Lebanese ties.

The sides exchanged views on the situation in the two countries. Nikol Pashinyan took the opportunity to present the national movement in Armenia, which started in April-May this year, dwelling on the political transformations and the expected developments.

Nikol Pashinyan and Saad Hariri noted with satisfaction that a high-level political dialogue is on between the two countries. They agreed in that vigorous efforts should be made to upgrade the economic component of interaction. In this regard, they highlighted the role of the intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation.

The Acting Prime Minister of Armenia presented his government’s steps aimed at improving the business environment and protecting investments. He suggested organizing a visit of Lebanese business circles in order to introduce Armenia’s business climate on the spot.

The parties discussed issues related to cooperation in agriculture, transport, tourism, as well as in other spheres of mutual interest. They expressed satisfaction at the rise in tourist flows as fostered by direct air communication between the two countries.

Nikol Pashinyan welcomed the interest shown by Lebanese companies in making investments in Armenia and reaching out to third markets through Armenia/

The two heads of government exchanged views over the ongoing Armenia-Lebanon cooperation at international platforms, touching upon regional issues and challenges.

At the end of the meeting, the Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia signed the Golden Book of Honorary Guests.

* * *

On the margins of his working visit to Lebanon, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called at the Armenian Embassy in Lebanon to meet with representatives of traditional Armenian political parties - the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun (ARFD), the Social Democratic Hnchakyan Party (SDHP) and the Liberal Democratic Ramkavar Azatakan Party (LDRAP) that were led by ARFD Lebanon Central Committee Chairman Hakob Bagratuni, Head of SDHP regional administration of Lebanon Sepuh Kalpakyan and Head of LDRAP regional administration of Lebanon Avetis Dakessyan.

Nikol Pashinyan highlighted the meeting held with the traditional Armenian parties of Lebanon from the perspective of Armenia’s progress, strengthening of Armenia-Diaspora-Artsakh relationships and promoting the Pan-Armenian agenda. He assured of his special attitude toward the Lebanese Armenians and youth, thanking them for support and active position during the velvet revolution.

The representatives of traditional Armenian parties stressed the importance of Nikol Pashinyan’s visit to Lebanon, noting that it will help strengthen relations between the two countries and peoples. They welcomed the ongoing changes in Armenia in the wake of the velvet revolution and conveyed to Nikol Pashinyan Lebanese Armenians’ readiness to assist his government in the implementation of all programs aimed at the empowerment of Artsakh and Armenia, as well as at deepening Armenian-Lebanese multifaceted ties.

The meeting next focused on the political processes underway in Armenia, the current situation and the upcoming events. The parties stressed the need to maintain the spirit of national unity and solidarity. They noted the importance of continued dialogue between political forces in Armenia for the sake of general progress. They expressed support for Nikol Pashinyan and the Armenian government in the implementation of the concept of development of the New Armenia.

The Acting Prime Minister hosted the chief editors of Azdak, Ararat Armenian newspapers, and the directors of Sevan and Voice of Van radio stations at his residence in Beirut.

* * *

On the margins of his working visit to Lebanon, on October 20, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with representatives of the Armenian community at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Lebanon.

Nikol Pashinyan addressed the meeting with a speech: “It is a great honor for me to be here today and have the opportunity to communicate with you. First of all, I would like to thank you, since all this time we have been feeling your warmth and support. It was extremely important as it gave us a lot of strength so that we could remain strong at times when it seemed that shocks were inevitable. During this period, we were aware of and continue to perceive the situation in the same way: the changes that we started and the status that we have today is a great responsibility and honor for us before the people of Armenia and all Armenians.

I want to assure you that we are fully prepared to bear this responsibility, which was once again reaffirmed today: it is a privilege to see the support of our traditional parties, organizations and all our compatriots.

I want to say in a nutshell what we want to do, and what are the main changes that should occur or are happening in Armenia. Our most important task is to promote democracy, which is not a theoretical position for us: an individual understanding of democracy is very important. You can discuss a lot what caused the citizens of Armenia to make these changes; you can try to find economic, social and legal reasons. But I think that the biggest demand of the people and citizens of Armenia was that they should be respected and not despised in their own country. This is the most important thing that the citizens of Armenia, the people living in Armenia expect from the authorities and will demand from any authorities, because we, the Armenians, have a special sense of dignity.

Our most important mission is to make the people of Armenia feel respected so that they could believe in their own strength and regain self-confidence.

We just have to mobilize our national potential, clearly formulate the national agenda, and each of us should make a contribution within our powers in order to implement the pan-Armenian agenda. In this regard, I consider it important to establish democracy in Armenia. I used to say several times as an opposition politician, and now I want to repeat in my capacity of Prime Minister of Armenia: we enjoy the people’s trust, we represent Armenia as Armenia’s authorities, and if we manage to reinstate specific freedoms, protect human rights, create an independent judiciary, ensure economic and political success, even in this case I will not consider the mission of the revolution and our mission completed.

My political team and I will consider our mission complete only when we come to power through free, fair, democratic elections or leave power at the will of the people. This is a very important condition, because, after all, it is very important for the people of Armenia to clearly realize that it is not up to the government to decide what people should be wishing, but the people itself has to determine what kind of authorities would be formed in Armenia. In this regard, we must state that the restoration of the electoral institution in Armenia is our most important mission, and the Armenian citizens must be sure that they can decide on the framework of power and individuals. The rest is supposed to serve this purpose.

You know that for many years there used to be economic monopolies in Armenia. I have the honor to state today that we no longer have economic monopolies in Armenia. For many years, there was a clearly systematized corruption mechanism in Armenia, and I have the honor to state that there is no corruption in Armenia today. Of course, there are still officials who have been working with the logic of the old regime for 20 years or more, and are now looking for ways to restore these mechanisms, but we will not give them that opportunity, and this is fundamental for us.

For me, the most important principle is the following: the use of power as a mechanism for getting property, wealth or material resources should be ruled out. I am principled in this matter. In my opinion, there should not be such people in our authorities as may use the public position as a means of getting property. The desire to get property and profit is legitimate, in general, when a person is not engaged in State activity or politics, but politics must cease to be a means for preserving property, or starting a business.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that today this message is strictly observed by everyone in Armenia, and I cannot exclude that this tendency can still continue and there may even be new manifestations, but I can say with confidence that we will consistently fight against it, and this phenomenon should be ruled out in Armenia.

The next task is to promote transparency, which implies that the government should work transparently and report to the people. After all, our most important task is to strengthen our statehood for the sake of our national goals. It should be stated that statehood strengthening should be based on the empowerment of people, because sometimes we come across with the misconception that it is possible to have a strong statehood without strong people. We shall take consistent steps to empower our people. This does not mean that there are not and will not be difficulties on this road, but I am convinced that for us there are no insurmountable difficulties. By saying “we”, I mean our people, because during its millennia-long history our people went through genocides, a lot of troubles, and now we stand in the 21st century, we have statehood, and in the 27th year on independence, we managed do something unprecedented in mankind’s history.

We managed what 99% of our people and Armenians worldwide considered impossible: not that they did not want it, but because they thought it was impossible. Some were concerned that this way could lead to shocks and we would inevitably have losses, but we felt the support of all our compatriots and the popular non-violent velvet revolution occurred when 99% of Armenians, even 100% pledged their support for the process.

It was a truly nationwide revolution for both Armenia and all Armenians. I want to congratulate you on the non-violent velvet popular revolution, accomplished by all of us, because I hope that the revolution makes each of you feel like a winner, and I congratulate you on your victory.

Thank you.”

Then Nikol Pashinyan answered a number of questions from representatives of the Armenian community of Lebanon, concerning the development of Armenia, Armenia-Diaspora relations, sectoral reforms, priorities of economic development of Armenia, repatriation, cooperation between the State and the Church, etc.

Presenting his vision of Armenia-Diaspora relations, Nikol Pashinyan noted: “It is important for us to tackle all the problems that entangled the relations between Armenia and Diaspora. Undoubtedly, all Armenians should participate in the state-building process in the homeland, but we need to consolidate at a higher institutional level. Diaspora and Armenia today are united as a result of the positive atmosphere formed after the revolution, which needs to be crystallized and materialized.”

The Acting Prime Minister next touched upon the activities of Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. He urged those present to trust the Fund’s activities and help enhance its transparency and cost-efficiency.

“Transparency in spending is very important. Trust is very important, and I hope that the Armenia-Diaspora relations will be based primarily on mutual confidence,” he stressed. Referring to the prospects for developing democracy in Armenia, the Acting Prime Minister noted, “There is no alternative to democracy, and I rule out any vote rigging during our tenure. The press in Armenia has never been so free as today, economic and political activities, the possibility of expression in Armenia have never been so free as now. Today, the government of Armenia enjoys the people’s support, and this is unprecedented in the history of the Third Republic, and if there is any dominance, this is the dominance of the people. ” Nikol Pashinyan expressed confidence that Armenia will continue to move forward along the path of democracy confidently and consistently.

Nikol Pashinyan next presented his vision of Armenia’s economic development, noting that the economy is currently anchored in mining industry, agriculture and gambling: this structure should be changed, and the government has set a goal to transform Armenia from an agrarian country into a technological one.

“We look forward to investment in information and high technology. In general, Armenia has to be am industrial country: there is great untapped potential in diamond industry, jewelry, light industry, tourism, and technology-extensive agriculture, and all this fits into our concept of an ecological, green Armenia,” the Acting Prime Minister stressed, highlighting the participation of Diaspora-based specialists in the development and restructuring of the economy. He also gave details on improving the investment climate and reforming tax regulations.

Questions were asked about the national agenda, including on the settlement of the Artsakh conflict. Nikol Pashinyan noted that the national agenda should be discussed in a single format, involving different layers of the Armenian people.

Touching upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Acting Prime Minister said: “During my contacts with international community representatives, I am often asked whether Armenia is ready for a compromise. I usually give the following answer: “Is Azerbaijan ready for a compromise?” I do not know who and where decided that Armenia should be the first to answer this question. Armenia is not going to be the first to answer this question. At least, the answer must be synchronous. Is Azerbaijan ready for a compromise? This is the question.

I said repeatedly that we would be adequate in any situation; both Armenia and the Armenian government should never lose the sense of adequacy. As for the framework for the settlement of the conflict, I can hardly present a solution without clarifying the status of Artsakh. This is a fact that we emphasize in our statements: Artsakh’s security and status are the cornerstone for resolving the conflict.”

The Acting Prime Minister noted that in our reality there is a strange perception, which is sometimes expressed in the press and the statements of some politicians. “Someone may think that there can be a government in Armenia to deal with the problem of Artsakh in secret. It has been discussed constantly over the past twenty years. How can any authority - even the worst government with bad intentions - secretly solve the Karabakh issue? I propose to abandon this discourse altogether. Once I said, and I keep saying this during negotiations, that if there is any option for resolving the conflict, and I myself am convinced that this is a good option, then I will introduce it to our people in Armenia and the Diaspora, and the people will decide whether they want it or not. I suggest giving up the presumption of conspiracy in the context of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict just because this issue cannot be solved in secret.

I am talking about Armenia and the Diaspora, but the most important and decisive factor is the position of Artsakh’s government and the people of Artsakh. Should Armenia and the Diaspora happen to approve an option, while the people of Artsakh might be reluctant, then we will state that it is a bad option. The people of Artsakh should have a decisive say in this matter. This does not imply at all that we reject the idea of negotiations, but we say that this is a national problem, and we must solve it together. I rule out that any authority - even the one with the strongest popular support - could solve this problem in a roundabout way. Otherwise they will lose the public’s trust in a minute. This is obvious, and we must make it clear once and for all,” Nikol Pashinyan concluded.

* * *

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s working visit to Lebanon continues.
On October 21, the second day of the visit, Nikol Pashinyan and his spouse Anna Hakobyan visited St. Gregory the Illuminator Mother Cathedral in Antelias, where they attended the Divine Liturgy dedicated to the 50th anniversary of ordination of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. In attendance were the Lebanese President’s representative, members of government and parliament, representatives of the Armenian community of Lebanon, congregation members from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, blessed by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

His Holiness Aram I noted in his speech: “In recent months a new chapter of love and solidarity has opened in our people’s life, especially in Armenia, and I am convinced that this page of love and solidarity should become a page of national unity, a sacred mission Armenia’s rehabilitation with the full commitment and participation of all the sons of our people. Mr. Acting Prime Minister, the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia will continue in its devotion and faith to strengthen Armenia and Artsakh.”

After the Divine Liturgy, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered congratulatory remarks:

“Your Holiness,
Honorable Clergymen, Ministers, Members of Parliament,
Dear Guests,

I am very much touched by your kind invitation, this long-awaited meeting and this wonderful Armenian atmosphere in the fraternal Lebanese land. I am excited that ex-officio and also, as an Armenian, who used to hear since early childhood about the role played by the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Armenia’s history, I have the honor to congratulate you on the 50th anniversary of your ordination.

Indeed, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia is the spiritual center of a large part of Apostolic Armenians in the Diaspora, a unique forge for the preservation and enrichment of church and religious traditions. Antilias is in the hearts of thousands of Armenians.

We are grateful that our national identity, our cultural values and programs have been conserved for many years in these walls. Invaluable is the role of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in the formation and organization of the Armenian Diaspora in the wake of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. It is not by chance that in the most difficult period for our people, Lebanon became a beacon of salvation for tens of thousands of Armenians who survived the Genocide.

Today, interstate relations between Armenia and Lebanon are at a high level. In this regard, the role of the Armenian community in this fraternal land is great, which, under the leadership of the Catholicosate, puts its abilities, knowledge and creative potential to serve the prosperity of their second homeland - Lebanon. Thank you for creating such a story.

Your Holiness,

Committed to the people and the Church, your activity is of particular importance in terms of national identity preservation, the Christian faith and the spiritual and cultural values in the Armenian Diaspora.

We are delighted with your creative and large-scale efforts that have been successfully editing the past and modern history of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia and its diocesan structures.

It would be hard to overestimate the influence and weight of His Holiness Aram I’s blessings and wise remarks on the road to building the Armenian statehood, implementing and organizing pan-Armenian priorities and national life.

Your support for the non-violent velvet popular revolution in Armenia was as much encouraging for us. It has become the best testimony of your selfless dedication to the universal values of freedom and humanism. We felt stronger in Armenia having the support of our Diaspora. I hope that from now on you will feel more proud and strong thanks to the New Armenia.

Mediating your service, you connect not only the spiritual and secular worlds, but also the interchurch and interfaith world, standing as a credit to the Armenian people.

Your Holiness,

The new era of reorganization and revival of the mission of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia will henceforth be associated with your name and your hard work. Truly, you are a pioneer in the preservation and development of Western Armenian, and a pioneer in spreading the love of a pure mother tongue among the younger generation.

It is not by chance that the main center for the creation and distribution of textbooks on the Armenian studies disciplines for Armenian schools is Antilias, and you, with your devotion to the cause, give a new impetus to this national-patriotic work.

Your Holiness,

I am glad and happy that my generation is your contemporary: your name alone gives a feeling of pride, and your speeches from the highest tribunes, your wise and influential words about the Armenian Genocide, Syrian-Armenians and other issues of national importance are inspiring, and revive national pride.

We have always kept in focus the latest events in Syria and the Arab world. We hope that your efforts to preserve the historical and cultural heritage, the management of Armenian assets, and the restoration of the Armenian community of Syria will be successful.

The security and stability of friendly Lebanon is very important, which is the guarantor of the normal functioning of the Armenian community in this country. It is also important for us because we in Armenia feel responsibility for our compatriots.

Your efforts to ensure Armenia-Diaspora cooperation in the process of international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide are of particular importance to us.

These efforts were best demonstrated by your numerous initiatives within the framework of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Your joint prayers with Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Garegin II in memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide in those days came as an important message of solidarity to all of us.

We are grateful that you as an eminent scholar, Armenologist and theologian, who has combined wisdom, endless patriotism and constant service for over half a century to fulfill your sacred mission before God, the Armenian Apostolic Church and Motherland.
May God grant you many years of life! May your powers be multiplied to the benefit of the Armenian State and the Armenian Church! May your patriarchal staff flourish and may the Armenian Apostolic Church be unshakable! May the Lord bless Lebanon! May the Lord bless Armenia! May the Lord bless the Armenian people and the people of Lebanon!

Thank you.”

* * *

In the frame of his working visit to Lebanon, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the Armenian educational and spiritual-cultural centers in Beirut. Nikol Pashinyan first called at Haigazian University, where he met with members of the Council of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, professors at Haigazian University, and representatives of Beirut’s Armenian schools.

Issues related to Armenian-Lebanese cooperation, deepening of educational ties, preservation of the Armenian identity and, in particular, the Armenian language, were discussed during a question and answer session. Nikol Pashinyan attached importance to the work carried out by Armenian educational institutions in Lebanon toward preserving the national identity and cooperating with relevant departments. The Acting Premier toured the University with a view to getting acquainted with its ongoing activities and programs. Nikol Pashinyan took the opportunity to talk to the students.

Nikol Pashinyan was shown the monument dedicated to the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, and a rocket monument erected in the University’s courtyard, the author of which is an Armenian. Nikol Pashinyan highly valued Haigazian University’s efforts in the field of Armenian studies. In conclusion, the Acting Prime Minister of Armenia signed the Book of Honorary Guests.

Nikol Pashinyan’s next port of call was the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Bzommar, where he was met by Auxiliary Bishop at the Beirut Patriarchal Diocese Gevorg Asaturian, Archpriest Patriarchal Vicar Superior, Bishop Gabriel Mouradian and his deputy Andon Vardapet Noratunkian.

Nikol Pashinyan and Anna Hakobyan attended the chapel’s welcome prayer served by representatives of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate and the Bzommarvank Congregation members. They lit candles in the church at the Monastic Complex, visited the local museum, the Matenadaran, and the wine cellar. During the tour, they were briefed on the Congregation’s running activities.

Patriarchal Vicar Superior, Bishop Gabriel Mouradian said he was honored and proud to host Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister and his delegation at the Bzommar Congregation. He noted that all Armenians were happy to see the strengthening of Armenia and supported the changes taking place in the homeland. The Acting Prime Minister was briefed on the mission of the over 270-years-old Bzommar Congregation, its role and ongoing activities.

On behalf of Bzommar’s Patriarchal Congregation, Patriarchal Vicar Superior, Bishop Gabriel Mouradian presented Nikol Pashinyan with a picture featuring the Holy Virgin.

Thankful for the warm welcome shown to his delegation, Nikol Pashinyan said: “I am having quite an exciting occasion as this is the first time I have been to the Armenian Catholic Church. This is a memorable visit that will go with me forever. A fundamental issue in Armenia and the Diaspora is that we should not allow for any divides between us. We are one nation, we come from the same venue and are heading for the same place; we have common dreams focused on the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh and the Armenian people.”

The Acting Prime Minister hailed the activities of one of the most important Armenian cultural and spiritual centers in terms of preserving our historical and cultural heritage, national identity, and strengthening Armenia-Diaspora ties.

* * *

As part of his working visit to Lebanon, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today met with Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias.

Prior to the meeting, Nikol Pashinyan joined Catholicos Aram I to visit the Chapel by the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral at the Holy See, which perpetrates the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims. Nikol Pashinyan paid tribute by laying flowers at the memorial.

Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I noted in his welcoming speech: “Dear Mr. Prime Minister, I am happy to welcome you home. The Church belongs to our people; we originate from the people, we belong to the people and are called to serve our people. This is the home of our nation, our homeland. We have formed this understanding as we studied here.

When we lost Cilicia as a kingdom and as a land, we created a spiritual Cilicia. This factor has gone a long way toward developing the spiritual Cilicia, as you mentioned in your speech this morning, and the mission of this chair is to materialize our spiritual, cultural and national values in our people’s lives.

We dreamed of Armenia, we wanted Armenia to see our dream, we dreamed of free and independent Armenia. Consequently, the majority of this chair represents the power of Armenia, and a new page opened in our homeland’s modern history - a new chapter of hope and love, unity and vision.

And from the very first day, I called on our people to not only be proud of Armenia at a distance, but also to take a share in the reconstruction and strengthening of our Homeland. Consequently, I would like to tell you once again that this chair with its wings and I personally support you because your success is Armenia’s success. Consequently, we all want our Motherland to grow stronger under your wise leadership. Once again I welcome you with these thoughts and expectations.”

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan replied: “Thank you, Your Holiness. To be honest, we are having a very impressive visit here. I want to congratulate you once again on the 50th anniversary of your spiritual activity. I expressed my appreciation during the morning’s event. I would like to reiterate my respect and appreciation to you for your work and thank you for the invitation because it gave me the opportunity to communicate with all the layers of Lebanon’s Armenian community.

Of course, it was a pleasure to state that the Armenian government has full support on the part of our compatriots. Believe it, your support, and, more importantly, your kind remarks and your active stance added to our strength during the days of the velvet revolution, for which I wish to thank you once again.

I would like to say that those changes could not have been done without the support of the Diaspora, without the unequivocal support of Diaspora-based Armenians. It helped us implement political processes exclusively in an atmosphere of peace, love and solidarity. The people’s position both in the Diaspora and Armenia was so obvious that any resistance seemed to be illogical.

Of course, it is very important to talk about the future, and being in such a spiritual center of the Armenian nation, I want to emphasize the factor of faith when talking about the future. We must believe in the future of our people, in our strength, and that is perhaps the most important thing. As the Bible teaches us, any goal can be reached with faith, conviction and purposefulness.
I hope, and I am also convinced that our people will never lose its self-confidence because it is crucial to state the essential, and what matters most is the people’s voice, which is a decisive power as stipulated in the Constitution of our country. I have no doubt that it will be the case ahead.

We must hope that we will not disappoint our people with our undertakings and activities; instead we will give them a new breath and instill trust in their power. Your support is crucial in this respect. Thank you for your readiness.”

After the meeting, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his spouse Anna Hakobyan attended the dinner hosted on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of ordination of Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, His Holiness Aram I.

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