YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Armenpress)–A conference to promote trade between Armenia and Russia–as well as the Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union kicked off Thursday.
The economic conference of the International Trade Union was welcomed by President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian–both of whom addressed their messages to the opening session of the conference.
The Union was established in 1999 to promote trade between Armenia–Russian–Ukraine–Belarus–Molodva and Bulgaria. Also participating in the union are representatives from Iran–Iraq–Syria–Lebanon–China–Georgia–the Czech Republic and Yugoslavia.
The chairman of the union–Nikolai Rizhkov discussed changes and reforms in the progression of the free market system–outlining the imperative to elevate economic relations between the former Soviet Republics to their original caliber.
Rizhkov–who is a member of the Russian Duma and the former Soviet Prime Minister–announced that under the Vladimir Putin administration–relations between Armenia and Russia have seen a dramatic improvement.
"Armenia is our strategic ally," stated Rizhkov–who also met with President Kocharian along with a high-level Russian delegation.
The conference specifically discussed the enhancement of Russian-Armenian economic ties–specifically in the spheres of agriculture–chemical engineering–machinery–raw iron development–and the military industrial complex.
Igor Karayev–a high level official of the Russia’s Economic Development Ministry announced that Armenia-Russia intergovernmental council was in the process of drafting a 10-year plan for economic cooperation between the two countries. The agreement is scheduled to be signed in the fall–during a summit between Kocharian and Putin.
Karayev added that due to a slowing by the Armenian side–some projects have remained on paper and have not furthered.