“Belarus is our key partner, and we are working together quite effectively” - Nikol Pashinyan meets with Alexander Lukashenko
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who is in Armenia to attend the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting.
Greeting the President of Belarus, Prime Minister Pashinyan said:
“Dear Alexander Grigoryevich, I am very glad to meet with you in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan. The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting is due tomorrow. I think it to be a very important meeting, since the free trade agreement between Iran and the EAEU enters into force in October, while we are going to sign a similar agreement with Singapore tomorrow. This means that the EAEU broadens the scope of its partners, and I am happy that it comes during Armenia’s presidency in the Eurasian Economic Union.
I am confident it will raise the attractiveness of the EAEU, and new business opportunities will be created for the EAEU-member states. I am also glad for this meeting, since we will be able to discuss a wide range of issues concerning our relationships, which are on quite a good level. But we have always noticed that we should not be satisfied with our achievements and should continue to build on our relations.
Belarus is Armenia’s strategic partner, a very important partner, and we are cooperating quite effectively. I hope that the ongoing cooperation will keep growing in efficiency.”
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko noted: “Dear Nikol Vovayevich, thank you for today’s important talks, held in the run-up to tomorrow’s meeting of Heads of State of our economic union. I want to compliment you for quite productive presidency. I know how interested you were and how actively you worked with Singapore for signing the agreement.
Frankly speaking, when I was told that we had to work out a free trade arrangement with Singapore, I said that we should turn to Nikol Pashinyan and Armenia about that, because our economies have much in common, and I do not think that Armenia could do anything wrong that might be harmful to our common interest. Of course, we ourselves analyzed the situation and kept backing you all the way through. You cannot deny that.
I should say that this is perhaps the first time that over a period of one year we were able to not only move forward, but also to work out an agreement. Frankly speaking, Singapore should first off all be thankful to Armenia for such a good instruments. But I have to likewise emphasize that all those nations involved will benefit from the agreement, otherwise no one would even have considered it. And that is why the agreement was developed within the best possible deadlines.
I am closely following the situation in Armenia in the context of its relations with Belarus. I know that the Armenians have always had a good attitude towards the people of Belarus. Our peoples have many similarities: they are hard working, with numerous sufferings left behind. You have often rightfully mentioned the sufferings that you went through over 100 years ago. We often speak about what happened 75-80 years ago during fascism and genocide in Belarus, which affected the Armenians, too. From this viewpoint our histories and peoples are similar, and of course, we are interested in developing our bilateral relations.
As you noted above, our trade turnover is not that great at this point of time, but otherwise it could have been inexistent at all. Many used to believe in our countries that we could not cooperate, that Yerevan would cooperate with its neighbors, but back then we said no, we need to rebuild our relations step by step. And now, after your becoming the Prime Minister, I contemplated the statistics and noticed that we have a 140% increase in trade turnover. This is a very good dynamics. We identified the ways, especially as we entered the EAEU, and I have to assure you that it will go the same way in the future as well. We will support you, your businesses in Belarus, and if you are interested in cooperating with our companies, we will come to Armenia and set up joint ventures.
Dear Nikol Vovayevich, I am saying this to show that our policy towards Armenia has not changed. Should you ever prove reluctant to cooperate with us, we will insist on being close and friendly countries. You may rest assured that we will always stand by Armenia.
I happen to be a good friend of yours, while the President of Azerbaijan has been a good friend for many years now. And what can I do about it? I have a very good attitude towards both Armenia and Azerbaijan. I have been in good relations with the leadership of Azerbaijan ever since the time when Heydar Aliyev became their president and we started working with him.
We have good relations with you, as well. You need not fear and worry that we can make friends with someone else against Armenia’s interest. Never. Come to Belarus, say what you need and we will be working for the good of Armenia. Believe me, this is just the essence of our relations.
I touched on such a non-diplomatic and delicate issue: maybe I should not have done it, but I do not want of any dark matters in our relations. We are bound by duty to echo the expectations of the Armenian and Belarusian peoples, and we have to be friends, since our peoples are friends. We are leaders that should comply with their peoples’ will. This is not just a mere talk. You have to believe in my sincerity and you should know that we will always have a good attitude towards you like relatives, like brothers.
The President of your country came to Belarus and met with the Armenian Diaspora. He asked them whether they had any problems with the local authorities, and no Armenian said anything. By the way, they are our Armenians, the Armenians of Belarus and they said that they had no problems whatsoever with the President and the authorities of Belarus. And it will always be like this.”
Nikol Pashinyan stated in turn: “Dear Alexander Grigoryevich, I am thankful for your kind remarks. You mentioned the agreement with Singapore. I want to stress that it came as a result of teamwork, since all EAEU-member states, all governments and the Eurasian Economic Commission did a good job over it. Taking the opportunity, I wish to thank you for cooperation.
As far as outspokenness is concerned, you know that I greatly value the open style of communication, and we should interact in that very way. I think it important for us to avoid dark corners in our relations and discuss all issues openly. You may know that we have quite uneasy relations with Azerbaijan. I will come right out with it and say that we are in conflict. We also happened to discuss that issue in the frameworks of the CSTO.
Indeed, any country should take into account its own interests, but I want to emphasize - and we have talked about it before – that we also have shared interests, and I am glad that we can work together and discuss all nuances in order to reach a joint conclusion.
Not all issues are of course easy to deal with. Generally speaking, it is not that easy to do the work we are doing. I do believe that we have enough wisdom, courage and political will to deal with any issue, and tackle them in a way that friendship and brotherhood continue developing and strengthening between our countries and peoples. I am confident in that.”