YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian’s five-day state visit to France continues. The Armenian delegation is scheduled to stay in France until Friday–February 16.
Kocharian’s demanding itinerary includes meetings with French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin–Chairman of Senate Christian Poncelet–Parliament Speaker Raymond Forni–representatives of the Armenian community in France and officials of France’s chief business federation–known as MEDEF.
A two-hour meeting between Jacques Chirac and Robert Kocharian was held on February 12. During the meeting President Chirac awarded Kocharian the Greta Cross of Honor Legion–and in his turn–Kocharian awarded Chirac the Armenian Order of Saint Mesrop.
While speaking to reporters–French President Chirac said the meeting was held in the atmosphere of friendship and trust. Chirac noted that it was a great honor for him to receive the president of Armenia–and added that an extensive range of issues had been discussed between them. Chirac said France–as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk group–wishes that peace be established between Armenia and Azerbaijan as soon as possible.
President Chirac also spoke about the economic relations between the two countries–emphasizing on economic reforms which are already underway in Armenia. He also added that France wants to see Armenia as member of WTO as soon as possible.
President Kocharian thanked Chirac for the warm reception–saying it was a great honor for him to be on a state visit to France. Kocharian informed that he and his French counterpart had discussed all areas of cooperation–including ways for regulation of the Karabakh conflict. Kocharian thanked France for its role in supporting Armenia’s accession to the Council of Europe and expressed hope for French support in Armenia’s rapprochement with the European Union. The president also gave an official invitation to Chirac to visit Armenia–and Chirac accepted with great pleasure.
On February 13–President Kocharian attended a concert at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion. He is also scheduled to travel to Lyon–France’s second largest city–which has one of the largest Armenian communities in the country. He is due to fly back to Yerevan on Friday February 16.