Foreign visits

Nikol Pashinyan’s Official Visit to the Republic of Singapore

07.07.2019 - 09.07.2019

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 Accompanied by his spouse Anna Hakobyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on July 7 arrived in Singapore on an official visit at the invitation of Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong.

The Prime Minister and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan visited the Armenian St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in Singapore, the oldest Christian institution in that country (1835).

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia joined Senior Minister of Industry and Trade of Singapore Co Poh Koon, as well as the representatives of the Armenian communities of Singapore and neighboring countries and regions - Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Australia, to attend the unveiling of a sculpture of Vanda Miss Joaquim flowers at the First Botanic Garden on the newly opened Armenian Street adjacent to St. Gregory the Illuminator Church. The sculpture was contributed by the Armenian community on the initiative of benefactor Khajag Margaryan.

Referred to as Vanda Miss Joachim, the orchid, which is also known as Singaporean or Aloha Princess Orchid, is a hybrid species that has become the national flower of Singapore - a state symbol. The well-known type of orchid was named after Singapore-based Armenian florist Agnes Joachim (Ashkhen Hovakimyan) who discovered the flower in Yeghegnut.

Nikol Pashinyan, Anna Hakobyan next called at the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church and toured the Armenian Heritage Museum.

The Prime Minister signed the Book of Honorable Guests. Later on he met with the representatives of the Armenian communities from Singapore and the neighboring countries. In commemoration of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, the Premier laid a wreath at the Armenian cross-stone at the Memory Garden. There are many Armenian gravestones in the Garden.

Greeting those present, Nikol Pashinyan stated: “Today, through the efforts of our compatriots, we eternized our fellow countrywoman’s contribution to Singapore. You may know that Singapore’s national symbol, the orchid named after our compatriot, was created by Ashkhen Hovakimyan, known as Agnes Joachim in Singapore. This is a symbolic event, which demonstrates our nation’s creativity.”

According to Nikol Pashinyan, in many parts of the world we will meet situations where Armenians are behind the symbolic values created in their countries.

“I am convinced that this is a full description of our people’s essence. I think the peculiarity of the modern time is that the creative genius of the Armenians must ultimately triumph in Armenia as well. The way we have to go should help us join those countries to which our compatriots have made landmark contributions. Singapore is one of the miracles of the 20th century, analysts and economists have written volumes of stories to understand how it happened and eventually created a country every corner of which has a meaning that is a unique proof of development and human creative genius,” Nikol Pashinyan said, noting that his answer is one: the ability to organize and encourage human life.

“I consider it to be the main symbol of today. Today, in fact, we have put a record of the Armenian nation’s talent and genius. I hope the numerous examples of this kind should remind us everywhere that we are talented and creative people that have contributed to the development and welfare of many nations. We can do the same in the Republic of Armenia and I believe that today’s event is emblematic in this respect,” the Head of Government said.

The Prime Minster noticed that there are dozens of Armenians who have left an indelible mark in this country.

“Today millions of Armenians live in the Republic of Armenia; millions of people will be living there, which means that they can leave a similar indelible mark in Armenia and Artsakh,” Nikol Pashinian underscored and went on to note that we often failed to be the masters of our history, and the time has come to recreate the history of our own country.

“Let us create Armenia’s modern history in tune with our ancestors’ dreams. The time has come for a free, happy and powerful Armenia. Our worldwide trips inspire ever greater confidence that we will achieve that goal. We came to prove what has already been proven. The Armenians are talented people: long live Ashkhen Hovakimyan; long live the Armenian people, long live Singapore, long live the New World,” Nikol Pashinyan concluded. He thanked the local authorities for their thoughtfulness of the Armenian heritage.

Taking the appointment, Nikol Pashinyan and Anna Hakobyan walked down Armenian Street in Singapore.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s official visit to Singapore continues. On July 8, Prime Minister Pashinyan met with representatives of Temasek Holdings foundation, led by investment group co-chair of Nagi Hamiyeh.

During the meeting, Nikol Pashinyan stated that the Armenian government is interested in discussing cooperation opportunities with the Temasek Holdings, given the latter’s productive activity in a number of sectors of the economy, including high technologies.

Pashinyan said the technological sector is one of priorities of the Armenian government as Armenia plans to build a technological economy the locomotive of which will be the IT field. He said since the Soviet times Armenia had a developed engineering system, currently engineering companies successfully operate in the country.

The Prime Minister advised that the IT field in Armenia has grown fivefold over the past 7 years. Pashinyan introduced the government’s actions aimed at fighting monopolies, corruption, adding that institutional reforms are being carried out in a number of directions. “We invite you to get acquainted with Armenia’s technological opportunities and activities of companies,” the Premier said.

Nagi Hamiyeh stated that there is a small, but organized Diaspora in Singapore the representatives of which successfully operate in different areas, including technological. The company representative added that Temasek Holdings is ready to discuss the cooperation and investment opportunities with the Armenian government, including in the field of engineering education. The co-chair of the investment group introduced the foundation’s activities in Singapore, China, US and India.

The parties discussed the prospects of creating a joint venture foundation, implementing startup programs, exchange of experience and technical cooperation.

The company representatives were invited to attend the 2019 World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) to take place in Yerevan in autumn. They accepted the invitation with pleasure. The sides agreed to continue the discussions in Yerevan.

* * *

An official welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan was held at Istana, the Government Residence in Singapore. The Prime Minister and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan were welcomed by Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong and Mrs. Ho Chin. The national anthems of Armenia and Singapore were played, after which the two prime ministers and their spouses greeted the delegation members.

Welcoming Nikol Pashinyan’s official visit to Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong noted that it might impart fresh impetus to cooperation between the two states. He pointed out that Armenia and the Armenian people enjoy great respect in their country, and his government is keen to engage in active cooperation with the Armenian side. Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the importance of cooperation in the economy, stressing the need for developing and expanding trade and economic ties.

Thankful for the warm welcome shown to his delegation, Prime Minister Pashinyan expressed his conviction that the Armenian-Singaporean ties would be gradually expanded as a result of effective bilateral negotiations. The head of the Armenian government noted that the world is impressed by Singapore’s development experience and our country also considers it to be exemplary.

“We are interested in deepening political, economic and humanitarian cooperation, and building closer people-to-people contacts,” the Premier said, stressing the importance of developing cooperation between the Armenian and Singaporean business circles.

Touching upon his government’s priorities, Nikol Pashinyan said a primary objective is to shape a technology-based economy in Armenia. In this regard, Nikol Pashinyan attached importance to the development of cooperation in the field of information technologies.

The parties discussed issues related to joint investment programs, trade turnover, cooperation in high technologies, tourism, aviation and other spheres.

Nikol Pashinyan gave details of the ongoing institutional reform and introduced his government’s steps aimed at improving the business environment.

The Singaporean Prime Minister welcomed the systemic changes in Armenia, noting that they could contribute to Armenia’s economic development and progress.

Nikol Pashinyan and Lee Hsien Loong touched upon the signing of the agreement on creation of a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union and Singapore. They expressed a shared belief that it would boost trade turnover.

Highlighting the great potential of economic cooperation, the two prime ministers emphasized the need for continued steps towards its implementation. They agreed to hold Armenian Culture Days in Singapore in the context of ever-expanding exchanges in the field of tourism.

Issues of regional significance were also discussed during the meeting.

* * *

Following the meeting, the governments of the Republic of Armenia and Singapore signed several cooperation instruments. The following documents were signed, attended by Nikol Pashinyan and Lee Hsien Loong:

The governments of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Singapore signed an agreement on avoidance of double taxation and preventing tax evasion. The document was signed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Avet Adonts and Senior Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs of Singapore Maliki Osman.

A memorandum of understanding on promoting cooperation in tourism was signed between the Tourism Committee of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia and the Tourism Board of Singapore. The Memorandum was signed by RA Minister of Economy Tigran Khachatryan and State Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore Koh Poh Koon.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia and the Ministry of Culture, Community Development and Youth Affairs of the Republic of Singapore. The document was signed by Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts, and Senior Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs of Singapore Maliki Osman.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Institute of Botany after Takhtajyan by the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia and the National Parks Board of Singapore. It was signed by RA Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts and the Director General of the Singapore National Parks Board.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with President of Singapore Halimah Yacob at the Istana Government Residence in Singapore.

Welcoming the Armenian Prime Minister’s official visit to Singapore, President Yacob noted that the small Armenian community of Singapore enjoys a good reputation and is fully integrated into the local society. The President of Singapore stressed that as a result, they have the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church and Armenia Street in the center of Singapore.

“Your visit is very important in the context of strengthening friendly relations between our countries, as well as the development of economic ties,” Halimah Yakob said, noting that Singapore is prepared to closely work and exchange experiences with Armenian partners.

Nikol Pashinyan pointed out that the Armenian government is keen to deepen the ongoing cooperation with Singapore, and went on to note that the two peoples are bound by strong ties of friendship. As an example, the Prime Minister cited Ashkhen Hovakimyan, who created the Wanda Miss Joachim orchid variety, which became the national flower and a state symbol of Singapore.

“Yesterday, in the courtyard of the Armenian church, a sculpture of an orchid was unveiled, referred to as Wanda Miss Joachim, which is another evidence of the affinities between our two nations. We have kept warm recollections of the visit paid to Armenia by First Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew a few years ago,” the Premier said. Nikol Pashinyan advised that the purpose of his visit is to give fresh impetus to bilateral relations and cooperation.

The Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Singapore discussed possibilities for implementing investment programs, developing trade and economic ties, and expanding cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral formats.

With reference to the changes taking place in our country, Nikol Pashinyan stressed that the Armenian government seeks to turn the political revolution into an economic breakthrough, and convert the economy into a technological one. In terms of ensuring further progress, the Premier considered that Singapore’s experience is encouraging and stressed the importance of bilateral cooperation.

“We boast great cooperation potential, which needs to be tapped in full through joint efforts,” the Prime Minister said, noting that the Government’s reforms have resulted in a free and transparent business environment and a stable financial and banking system in our country.

The President of Singapore expressed support for the two governments’ efforts, aimed at the furtherance of bilateral relations.

The parties noted the importance of cooperation in the frame of international organizations and touched upon problems of regional significance.

* * *

On behalf of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, an official dinner was given in honor of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan, during which the two heads of government reciprocated toasts.

In his remarks, the Prime Minister of Singapore stated, in part:
“Your Excellency Mr. Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, and Madam Anna Hakoyan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you and your delegation to Singapore. I am delighted at your first official visit to Singapore. Our two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992, but our relations go much further back in history. About two hundred years ago a group Armenian immigrants moved to Singapore. Their number was small: no more than a hundred people by that time, but the impact was significant. Signs of the Armenian presence can still be found all over Singapore.

As a former journalist, Prime Minister Pashinyan would undoubtedly be pleased to know that Singapore’s main newspaper, the Straits Times, was founded in 1845 by an Armenian called Khachik Moses. Several buildings are named after the Sarkis brothers who founded the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Even our national flower was created by Agnes Joachim, a horticulturalist of Armenian descent. And the sculpture of the Joachim Orchid that the Prime Minister unveiled yesterday on Singapore’s Armenian Street comes as a symbol of cross-connections between our nations.

We are proud of the Armenians who continue to contribute to the development of our country. For example in June last year, a second Armenian church was inaugurated on Singapore’s Armenian Street. The Armenian community hopes to keep their identity alive so that others, too, could learn the history of Armenia and the Armenian community.

We are negotiating on free trade agreement (FTA) between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union. We want to establish and catalyze more business and economic relations between the two countries. We appreciate Armenia’s strong support for the FTA and we hope to be able to conclude it as soon as possible.

During this visit, Mr. Prime Minister will meet with Singapore’s business circles, and I hope to see our businesses working together, taking advantage of the agreement on avoidance of double taxation that we signed recently.

We are strengthening ties in other areas, too, including tourism, culture, and education. We will use diverse platforms to deepen our relationships. We welcome the reciprocated visits and exchanges, since we, too, have much to learn from Armenia.

Prime Minister Pashinyan, once again, I welcome you to Singapore. Thank you.”

RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated in his speech:
“Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister,
Dear guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me to be in this beautiful country, which with its small territory, but enormous abilities has become a focus of general admiration. Singapore stands out with its unique model of economic development, welfare and social progress, as well as for its cultural characteristics. We, the Armenians entertain special feelings for Singapore.

The Armenians boast deeply-rooted historical ties with Singapore. It is no coincidence that the oldest Christian church in Singapore is the 184 years old Armenian church. And today, of course, we are proud that the small but vibrant Armenian community has left a worthy mark in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, which the whole world admires. We are pleased that the material and spiritual Armenian heritage of Singapore is cared for and preserved with due thoughtfulness.

We are truly proud of the past, but we do not want to be limited to it. We want our two countries to trade with each other and develop human relations, as they did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Our delegation arrived in Singapore to open a new chapter in our relations. Singapore is one of the most economically developed countries in the world and we want to stimulate mutual trade and investments between our countries. I do believe that there are all the necessary prerequisites for this.

Over the past one year, the Armenian government has taken steps to radically transform the economic climate in the country. The rule of law has been strengthened: equal conditions have been created for all economic entities, including foreign investors. Corruption has been minimized. It is no longer considered a factor in business efficiency. We no longer suffer from the symptoms inherent in many post-Soviet countries. New Armenia is opening up new opportunities for investment and economic activity.

The above is complemented by the fact that a free trade arrangement is going to be signed between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union, of which Armenia is a member. It can be an extra incentive for the development of economic cooperation between our countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A superficial glance at our two countries is enough to notice the similarities between them. Both countries find themselves in a complex or unfavorable geopolitical environment. Both countries are short of natural resources and are developing their development strategies on the effective use of human capital. Education, knowledge and innovation, diligence and perseverance, patience and optimism are considered to be the pledge and driving force for the development of our countries.

Nevertheless, unlike Singapore, which began its development five decades ago and has already defied the initial tide of challenges to reach unprecedented heights, Armenia is still on the threshold of its rapid growth.

Yes, today we are providing necessary conditions for display of diligence, creative thinking and enterprise. We see our future in a knowledge-based economy, innovation and the development of high technology. Armenia has no alternative to this. Our external environment prompts us to go this way.

The economic miracle of Singapore was truly unprecedented. Your unique experience in this regard is of great interest to us, and we would be grateful for your advice. Here, I cannot help mentioning that the Armenians have kept fond recollections of the visit paid to our country by Singapore’s development and progress architect Lee Kuan Yew in 2009. He, whose fame has long gone beyond the national border, is considered in Armenia as a symbol of honest and effective governance. Meritocracy, pragmatism and honesty, which are the pillars of public administration philosophy in Singapore, have been adopted by New Armenia’s leadership as core principles.

Concluding my speech, I would like to raise a toast for the friendship of the peoples of Singapore and Armenia, for your beautiful city and talented people, as well as for our continued cooperation.”

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s official visit to Singapore continues. On July 8, Prime Minister Pashinyan and the members of his delegation attended a round table, held with representatives of the Singapore Business Federation Foundation (SBFF).

Welcoming the guests, SBBF Executive Director Ho Meng Keith, stressed the importance of the meeting with the Prime Minister of Armenia and the government delegation, which is a good opportunity to develop the Armenian-Singaporean business ties, reinvigorate them and initiate joint projects. He noted that the Singaporean business circles are eager to start business activities in Armenia and, therefore, they wish ti get acquainted with our country’s investment opportunities and discuss cooperation prospects.

Mr. Ho Meng Kit noted that the free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and Singapore will be an effective tool for promoting business ties, and Armenia can become an important platform for entering third-country markets.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted that he was pleased to visit the Singapore Business Federation Foundation and discuss the development of economic ties. “We entertain high-level political relations, and I hope that after this visit they will be further strengthened and economic cooperation will be intensified. Armenia is in a process of economic transformations as we are working to create favorable conditions for economic growth and entrepreneurship,” the Prime Minister said. He touched upon the reforms initiated by the Government of Armenia, dwelling on the steps aimed at improving tax and customs administration and implementing judicial reforms in order to provide a system of guarantees for the protection of foreign investments.

Nikol Pashinyan stressed that last year’s velvet revolution in Armenia and the ensuing drastic political changes did not cause economic upheavals; the banking system continued to operate in a sustainable way and there were no cases of redistribution of property.

The head of the Armenian government presented the macroeconomic indicators of recent months, stressing that they continue upwards. He referred to those areas strong with cooperation potential: information technology, air traffic, tourism, including eco-and gastro-tourism, food industry, infrastructure development, etc.

“Armenia takes interest in Singapore’s development record and experience, which can be useful in the process of our reforms. We are keen to share know-how and implement joint investment programs,” Nikol Pashinyan pointed out.

High-Tech Industry Minister Hakob Arshakyan presented the potential inherent in Armenia’s IT sector, the development trends, the activities carried out in the field of digitization and cooperation opportunities, while Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Arsen Gasparyan elaborated on the potential available in different sectors of the economy and the promising areas of cooperation.

The SBFF representatives thanked the Armenian Prime Minister and his delegation for imparting detailed information on Armenia’s investment opportunities and went on to assure of their willingness to invest in our country: to this end, they are planning to visit Armenia in the near future.

The meeting was attended by top executives and representatives from companies engaged in the processing industry, hotel management, textile industry, import and export of agricultural products, IT, etc. The sides agreed to organize reciprocal visits of business delegations to get to know on the spot each other’s investment and interaction opportunities.

Prime Minister Pashinyan advised that Armenia will be hosting the annual World IT Congress this October and, taking the opportunity, invited Singaporean IT companies to attend that important high-tech event.

The Executive Director of the Singapore Business Federation Foundation said he would forward the Prime Minister’s invitation to the leadership of Singapore’s relevant association.

* * *

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Singapore Parliament Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin.

Before the meeting, the Prime Minister of Armenia signed the Honorary Guest Book of the Singaporean Parliament.

“Welcome to Singapore, Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you for visiting the Parliament. We are convinced that your visit will help us develop and expand ties with friendly Armenia,” Tan Chuan-Jin said.

Highlighting the importance of his visit to Singapore, Nikol Pashinyan noted that all the meetings there were held in a productive, practical and friendly atmosphere. “We are eager to develop multifaceted ties with your country, including political and economic relations,” the Premier said, stressing the need to boost cooperation between the respective business circles. In this regard, he highlighted the signing of a free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Singapore and its soonest possible ratification. Nikol Pashinyan introduced his government’s priorities and the systemic changes underway in our country, emphasizing the importance of cooperation with Singapore.

Highlighting the availability of deeply-rooted cultural ties between the two nations, the Singapore Parliament Speaker said they can serve as a good base to catalyze cooperation between the two governments and parliaments.

Nikol Pashinyan conveyed RA Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan’s invitation for Tan Chuan-Jin to visit Armenia, which was accepted with pleasure.

The parties talked about the need to form an inter-parliamentary friendship group and intensify the cooperation of parliaments on international platforms. They took the opportunity to discuss other issues of mutual interest.

* * *

Accompanied by his spouse Anna Hakobyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens on the margins of his official visit to Singapore. An orchid naming ceremony was held, at which a new variety of the national flower of Singapore was named after the Armenian Prime Minister and his spouse. Similar events are held in Singapore in honor of high-ranking foreign guests and celebrities.

The participation of the Prime Minister and his spouse in this event had another meaning as well: Vanda Miss Joachim, the orchid, which is also known as Singaporean or Aloha Princess Orchid, was named after Singapore-based Armenian florist Agnes Joachim (Ashkhen Hovakimyan) who discovered the flower in Yeghegnut.

Pashinyan signed the Book of Honorary Guests, after which the Premier and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan toured the Gardens.

Note that following the Armenian and Singaporean prime ministers’ meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Botany Institute after Takhtajyan by the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and the Singapore National Parks Board.

The Prime Minister of Armenia gave a live interview to Singapore’s News Asia TV Channel, at which he gave details of the talks with his Singaporean counterpart and the cooperation development opportunities between the two countries.

* * *

In conclusion of his official visit to Singapore, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

As part of the strategy developed by the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Board implements investment promotion steps aimed at turning Singapore into a business and investment hub. The Board is responsible for developing and presenting valuable solutions for organizations and investors, thereby contributing to the sustainable development of the business environment and the creation of jobs in Singapore.

EDB Chairman Beh Swan Gin said the Board has expressed readiness to closely cooperate with Armenian partners, exchange know-how and provide technical assistance.

The Armenian delegation was briefed on Singapore’s development experience and impressive achievements in infrastructure, industry, investment, information technology and other spheres, as well as the results of economic cooperation with neighboring states.

Highlighting the cooperation with the EDB, the Premier thanked the Singaporean side for their willingness to cooperate with Armenian partners. During the meeting, the EDB Chairman was asked questions about the Board’s ongoing activities.

The official visit to Singapore of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Mrs. Anna Hakobyan is over.

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