PM Pashinyan, President Putin discuss issues of Armenian-Russian strategic relations
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan arrived in the Russian Federation on a working visit and met with RF President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.
RF President Vladimir Putin: Mr Pashinyan, I am pleased to see you and host you in Moscow again.
I am grateful to you for accepting the invitation, because, of course, we have things to talk about in terms of building bilateral relations and, needless to say, we need to discuss the most pressing problem which is normalising the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and related matters.
I am not going to list all the things that go into bilateral relations, or talk about the degree of depth of our relations, which are of a truly strategic nature. I will not list the international platforms on which we cooperate, either. Still, I believe it is important to mention that 40 percent of all capital investment in the Armenian economy comes from Russia.
Our trade turnover is quite impressive. However, for various reasons, but, primarily, of course, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen a slight decline over the past year. I am confident that in the very near future we will not only rebuild our trade to its previous volume, but even expand it.
I see that the Intergovernmental Commission, which you and I have established, is working energetically on both sides. You have taken bold action to support its activities, and Deputy Prime Minister [Alexei] Overchuk regularly goes to Yerevan. Quite recently you received him, and he reported to you on how we see the dynamics of interaction in the region with the post-war situation in mind. You and I have discussed this issue many times.
Of course, the possibility of restoring trade and economic ties as well as transport routes in the region, so that Armenia can enjoy more opportunities for growth is the most important matter. I believe this is crucial.
I hope that today, during our conversation here and then at a working lunch, we will have the chance to discuss with you all these matters, as well as others stemming from the current situation and involving prospects for future development.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! I am very glad to see you. First of all, let me thank you for the invitation to visit Moscow.
We will keep in close touch indeed, but meetings like this are important in terms of synchronizing the clocks, as they say. We are going to discuss a fairly hectic agenda, inclusive of strategic issues.
First of all, I would like to note that the presence of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh is becoming an important factor of stability and security in the region, and in this vein, I hope to discuss with you today your views on the architecture of security systems in our region - in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, in Armenia and in the region, as a whole.
I hope today we can discuss issues related to the activities of the Russian-Armenian grouping of forces. We have a joint regional air defense system, and there are some nuances that I hope we will be able to clarify today.
I would like to reaffirm my appreciation of your personal contribution to regional stabilization, especially in the wake of the war following the signing of the joint statement with you and the President of Azerbaijan. But let me note that there is a very sensitive issue yet to be solved in this context – the issue of prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees.
As we have repeatedly discussed, according to the November 9 statement, all hostages, prisoners of war, and other detainees should be returned to their homeland, but, unfortunately, we still have detainees in Azerbaijan. I am happy that we have no discrepancies concerning this issue.
It is also crucial to discuss our vision of the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, because unfortunately the problem has not been resolved yet, and we need to talk about our vision of the future. And as you said, we should definitely discuss issues of economic cooperation.
I hope that today we will refer to some issues concerning strategic investments, and in that vein, I would like to discuss with you the possibility of building a new nuclear power plant in the Republic of Armenia.
We have been working closely to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, we will get the first batch of Russian vaccine as early as tomorrow. It should be noted that the first batch is a symbolic one, but we look forward to procuring a large amount of Russian vaccine, because it has proven its effectiveness in practice.
We actually have to explore a broad range of issues. I hope and I am confident that we will have very effective talks today.
Vladimir Putin: Of course, we will talk about all of these issues in the most detailed way. We will take up all those issues that you feel are necessary to discuss, including the vaccine, of course. By the way, have you already completed the registration procedure in Armenia?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: Yes, the first batch will arrive in Armenia tomorrow. True, only 15,000 doses, but we need more than a million. I understand that currently there is a great demand for the vaccine in Russia, too.
Vladimir Putin: Our domestic production is on the rise. We are talking about a fairly large amount of output. Therefore, I think we will successfully tackle this problem.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Not to the detriment of Russian citizens, Russian consumers. The volume of production is comparable to the need in our country, because not everyone wants to be vaccinated right away. As the vaccination campaign progresses, more and more people want to get this vaccine, which makes that supply meets the domestic demand in general. There is even a slight preponderance of supply. At the same time, the level of output is growing, so we can discuss this issue.
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with several dozen members of the Association of Armenian Lawyers in Moscow. Greeting the audience, the Premier said, “You know that we are going through a very challenging period when there are great concerns and questions. This meeting is especially important for you, I mean for the Armenians in Moscow, Russia and worldwide, to raise questions looking into my eyes and for me to be able to answer your questions.”
Nikol Pashinyan first referred to the results of his talks with President Putin. He noted that practically all sensitive issues and nuances were discussed within three and a half hours. “I am pleased with the outcome of today’s meeting on the whole. Of course, very open relationship has been established with the President of the Russian Federation, especially in recent months. Our relations can be described as straightforward and open. Today we discussed a broad range of issues high on the bilateral agenda; we touched upon issues of regional and even international importance. The meeting was productive, we did not sign any instruments, but we talked about a number of documents, including in the field of security, about the implementation of a number of documents signed earlier, which are being implemented today. You may know that we have signed an agreement on a joint Armenian-Russian military grouping and an agreement on a common air defense system, and both of them are standing,” the Prime Minister said, noting that they had discussed a specific plan and mechanisms for implementing the provisions of those agreements amid new realities.
“You know that the army reform is among the most important issues on our post-war agenda, which we are implementing with the support of our Russian partners. This was one of the key issues in our discussion. We reviewed the situation with the repatriation prisoners of war, the agenda of regional communications, as well as the directions in which we need to work together. We ascertained where our views concurred and in what directions we should work to harmonize positions. So I consider today’s discussion quite productive. The agenda of our discussions is so vast that I might have missed something, but I will definitely come back to it in the future. One thing is clear: the Armenian-Russian relations are of strategic character, and cooperation needs to be deepened taking into consideration the emerging challenges and the realities we face at this point of time,” Nikol Pashinyan stressed.
Asked about the return of prisoners, the Premier emphasized the need for full implementation of the 8th clause of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, which provides that “the prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons and bodies of the dead ought to be exchanged.”
Nikol Pashinyan stressed that there is full mutual understanding with President Putin concerning the repatriation of POWs, and in this regard, positions on the full implementation of this agreement coincide. He advised that agreement had been reached with the President of the Russian Federation to carry out even more intensive work on the return of prisoners.
Prime Minister Pashinyan answered a number of questions concerning the war unleashed against Artsakh, the post-war situation, the assistance provided by the Armenian government to Artsakh’s war-affected population, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, the regional situation, the internal political situation in Armenia, the upcoming parliamentary elections, the opportunities for full realization of the Diaspora potential, the institutionalization thereof, etc.