Joint Press Conference by Armenia and Singapore Prime Ministers in Yerevan
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A joint press conference was held after the official talks between Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The two prime ministers made statements for the press and then answered journalists’ questions.
Below you will find the shorthand of the joint press conference:
Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan:
“Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to welcome the delegation led by the Prime Minister of Singapore to Armenia. This year, the representatives of Armenia and Singapore have had the opportunity to meet several times, which has created excellent ground for exchange and cooperation among our peoples with close historical ties.
We are very interested in deepening our friendly relations with Singapore. To this end, we take action that meets all the prerequisites.
Armenia and Singapore have interesting similarities, our countries are not rich in natural resources and they build their development strategies on the efficient use of human capital. Education, knowledge and innovation, diligence and optimism are the guarantee and the driving force of the development of our countries. There are also close historical ties, which are a new development for our relations. Our high-level contacts and, of course, the Singapore Prime Minister’s ongoing visit to Armenia bring our bilateral relations to a qualitatively new level.
The Eurasian Economic Union and its Member States will sign a comprehensive framework agreement on economic cooperation and a free trade agreement with Singapore in the framework of the meeting of the Supreme Council of the EAEU in Yerevan. We are pleased that these agreements are concluded during the presidency of Armenia in the EAEU.
As the country chairing the EAEU, we have made considerable efforts to expand the geography of the external relations of the EAEU, and Singapore has been at the center of our attention. We hope that the creation of this important legal framework will contribute to the intensification of cooperation between our countries in the fields of information technology and innovation.
During the talks, we talked about expanding effective cooperation with international organizations, particularly within the United Nations. I expressed my gratitude for the training program for civil servants organized by the Government of Singapore. This is particularly appreciated in the context of large-scale public sector reforms in our country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to note that during my visit to Singapore, the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the fields of culture and arts is already yielding concrete results. Next year, it is planned to organize Armenian Days in Singapore, which will be marked by a number of cultural events.
I am convinced that this will contribute to the mutual recognition of our friendly peoples, the encouragement of human contacts and the activation of tourism and economic activity. In this context, it is symbolic that the 185th anniversary of the Armenian Church of Singapore will be celebrated next year. We are grateful that the material and spiritual heritage of Armenia is being preserved with the utmost care in Singapore. I am now giving the floor to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Thank you.”
Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong:
Thank you, Prime Minister. Thank you also for the invitation to visit Armenia and for your warm hospitality. It is an honor for me to visit Armenia for the first time. When Prime Minister Pashinyan arrived in Singapore in July, I told him that I was hoping to visit Armenia soon.
The experience and the charm of your country of which I had heard so much, I wanted to feel personally and very happy to be here. Our countries boast warm friendship ties that date back to the 19th century. There is a small but vibrant Armenian community in Singapore that has played an important role in our society.
There is also an Armenian street adjacent to an Armenian church, which is the oldest church in Singapore and is preserved as a national monument. This is the highest level of protection for our historic monuments. Even our national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, was created by Agnes Joaquim, an orchidophile from Armenia.
This morning, the Prime Minister and I discussed a wide range of topics and discussed how to expand our bilateral relationship, including exchanges and study visits, to learn from each other. We discussed the Eurasian Economic Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and we have made considerable progress since our last meeting, which allows us to sign the agreement during this visit.
Armenia is an important partner for Singapore in the Eurasian Economic Union. At first glance, our countries are very different. The two are geographically distant, one is an island state, the other has no access to the sea, both have separated, but we have a lot in common as small states seeking to serve bridges to our regions.
We both value free and open trade, the international multilateral agenda and the values of the rule of law at the international level. In this sense, we are both important advocates of the EAEU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. We are pleased to sign the framework agreement on Tuesday and I am pleased that Singapore and Armenia are also signing an agreement on services, trade and investment. This is the first of the five services and investment agreements that we hope to conclude with each of the member states of the EAEU.
The agreements were strengthened after seven formal negotiations that began two years ago. This gives a new impetus to the negotiations on the free trade agreement and we should thank the delegates for their work.
This is the first comprehensive free trade agreement with the EAEU, and it is a great honor for Singapore to join this agreement.
I would like to thank Prime Minister Pashinyan for his personal assistance, for obtaining this result and for organizing this ceremony. I hope this will encourage closer relations between the EAEU and Singapore and that it will pave the way for a smooth free trade agreement between the EAEU and ASEAN. The signing of a free trade agreement will also strengthen our bilateral relations and the agreements we signed during Prime Minister Pashinyan's visit to Singapore in July. I hope that these agreements will be implemented in such a way that our citizens and businessmen can benefit from concrete benefits.
I looked forward to this visit to Armenia, meeting with the President and the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians. Thank you.”
Question: Channel NewsAsia - Singapore and Armenia are small states surrounded by larger neighbors, but geographically distant. How can Singapore benefit from cooperation with Armenia and vice versa?
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: As small states, I think we have every interest in working together better. Distance is a factor, but there is potential for development and I think we can do a lot to strengthen it.
During the Prime Minister's visit to Singapore, we signed agreements and memoranda of cooperation between the two countries. We have a memorandum of cooperation in the field of tourism, agreements on the prevention of double taxation, cooperation in the field of technical and vocational education. These are practical steps that we can take bilaterally to promote cooperation between the two countries.
However, at the regional level, Singapore is a member of ASEAN and Armenia is part of the EAEU. I think we can work together in our regions to strengthen the ties that bind them together.
The Singapore Free Trade Agreement with the EAEU, which we are signing on Tuesday, and the Services and Investment Agreement with Armenia, which we will also be signing on Tuesday, will, I think, be beneficial both for Singapore and for Armenia.
Third, we work together in international platforms, such as the UN. Armenia is a member of the Forum of Small States (FOSS) and we are more than 100 members of this body.
We are working together at the United Nations to defend our interests, to make our voices heard so that, in the international community, where many states are much larger than us, we can nevertheless defend our interests and raise issues of interest to both of us .
Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan: I think such visits also reduce the distance between our countries, especially in the 21st century. I can say with confidence that Singapore and Armenia have come together as a result of these visits, which is a very good foundation. Especially in terms of tourism, the further away the country is, the more interesting it is for the tourist as it opens new senses and a new perspective.
I would like, for example, to see as many Armenian citizens as possible in Singapore, and I would like to see many Singaporeans go to Armenia, see your country, especially as the Prime Minister said, there is already specific perception of Armenia in Singapore and the national symbol of Singapore has some associations with the Armenian people.
Needless to say that in the 21st century, there is a very important tool for reducing space, namely technological cooperation. I am pleased that we all understand that we must cooperate in the field of high technology and information technology. There is also a huge potential. And I believe that with our joint efforts, we will be able to reduce the distance between Singapore and Armenia.
Question: Public Television of Armenia - Mr. Prime Minister, during your visit to Singapore in July, you indicated that trade and investment should be strengthened between Armenia and Singapore. Do we have tangible results in this short period, and will the visit of the Prime Minister of Singapore to Armenia and the signing of the Agreement on the Creation of an Economic Free Zone with the EAEU contribute to the development of between Armenia and Singapore and what will it bring us?
Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan:
This agreement aims to create new opportunities and conditions for business, both in terms of investment and trade, and I think companies are eagerly awaiting such opportunities. We have discussed with the Prime Minister that such visits and contacts are a means of attracting the attention of our potential investors operating in Singapore and Armenia.
I think that Armenia has a lot to offer in Singapore, and we are discussing it, what are the export opportunities, and Singapore has a lot to offer to Armenia. Over the past two months, we have done a lot of intense and meaningful work during this phase, in order to create opportunities, to draw attention to these opportunities and I think that sufficient attention has already been scope.
Governments can not dictate to companies, force them to invest anywhere, the role of governments is to make every effort to make the mutual investments profitable. We should talk about excluding double taxation. With this new agreement, which has not yet been signed and ratified, we are creating absolutely new opportunities for companies in Singapore and Armenia and the EAEU.