YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A delegation led by Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov and including Vice-Speaker of the Russian State Duma Artur Chilingarov–Vice-Premiers of the Moscow government Vladimir Resin and Sergey Yastrzhembsky as well as officials of other departmen’s arrived in Yerevan Thursday on a one-day visit.
This business visit is aimed at deepening relations between the Moscow and Armenian governmen’s.
A package agreement was signed on November 26 1998 between the Moscow and Armenian governmen’s during Armenian Prime Minister Armen Darbinian’s visit to Moscow.
"I sincerely consider Armenia to be Russia’s strategic partner," Luzhkov said–talking with journalists. Among the goals of his visit Luzhkov mentioned the setting up of the machine-building production–export of chemical and food products to Moscow as well as the cooperation in health and educational spheres.
Goods produced in Armenia can compete with Western-made goods on Russian markets–Luzhkov told reporters during his visit. Among the competitive Armenian-made goods Luzhkov pointed to tuff–stones with synthetic surfaces–rubber–mineral pigmen’s–heat insulating materials–metal processing instrumen’s–jewelry and footwear. Among foods he mentioned wine–juices and other beverages–fresh and processed fruit–and cheese.
The deputy head of the Moscow government–chief of the Food Supply Department Vitali Morozov expressed that any quantity of cheese made in Armenia can be sold in Moscow. Morozov said that Armenian wine and brandy are in great demand in Moscow.
The first deputy head of the Moscow government–Vladimir Resin said that Armenia has a great potential in the sphere of construction–building material production as well as in food and light industries.
"Footwear of excellent quality produced in Armenia is three time as cheap as the substitute of unidentified origin the Moscow markets are full of," Resin said. According to him–it is only the sides’ inactivity that impedes the expansion of the sales markets for the Armenian-made goods. Resin also pointed out that Yuri Luzhkov’s visit will serve as a stimulus for restoring and developing economic relations.
Luzhkov also discussed Russian-Armenian economic relations. He said that the most important task Yerevan and Moscow are setting themselves today is to double economic contacts between Armenia and Russia this year.
Luzhkov stressed that the Moscow government is doing its best for all the initiatives of the Armenian sides to be developed. In particular–Russia’shows interest in increasing the production of rubber at the Armenian "Nairit" enterprise.
Luzhkov also addressed developing cultural ties. Luzhkov announced plans to open cultural centers in Moscow and Yerevan that would strengthen the Russian and Armenian Diasporas in Armenia and Russia respectively.
Luzhkov–in particular–said his administration wants the Armenian community of Moscow–which now amounts to about 450,000 people–to keep growing larger–and to enrich its culture and language.
Speaking for maintaining and developing the centuries-old traditions of friendship between Armenia and Russia–the Moscow mayor said that many great people in Russia (such as the great military commander Alexander Suvorov) were of Armenian descent.
During the press conference in Yerevan–Luzhkov criticized the activities of CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky–whom he accused of discouraging new defense alliances and failing to strengthen the Commonwealth. Luzhkov is a top contender for the presidency in next year’s presidential election in Russia.
"It seems to me that he [Berezovsky] is concerned with commercial problems in CIS–arising from his private interests rather than from problems the CIS executive secretary ought to take care of," said Luzhkov.
The Russian politician said that–retaining their sovereignty–CIS countries should seek economic cooperation similar to that being developed among European countries.