YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian emphasized Russia’s importance for Armenia’s economic development in a phone call with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reported by his office on Thursday.
A statement issued by the office said the two men discussed unspecified “issues on the agenda of Armenian-Russian cooperation.” The statement quoted Sarkisian as telling Putin that “the economic development of friendly relations with Russia is also a serious development signal to Armenia’s economy.”
No further details were reported. Putin’s office issued no statements on the phone conversation.
Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan similarly underlined Russia’s enduring economic significance for his country when he phoned the powerful Russian premier last week to congratulate him on his birthday. According to an Armenian government statement, Sarkisian thanked Putin for helping Armenia cope with the global financial crisis and promoting Russian-Armenian economic ties.
It was an apparent reference to a $500 million anti-crisis loan allocated by the Russian government to the Armenian authorities last year. Tigran Sarkisian discussed terms of the loan with Putin during a February 2009 visit to Moscow.
Putin, still widely regarded as Russia’s most powerful man, frequently met with Armenian leaders throughout his eight-year presidency that came to an end in 2008. He has not yet visited Armenia in his current prime-ministerial capacity.
The 58-year-old premier, who has signaled his intention to regain the Russian presidency in 2013, won plaudits in Yerevan early this year after publicly telling Turkey to stop linking the normalization of its relations with Armenia to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Visiting Turkey in June, Putin also made clear that Moscow will not seek to impose a peaceful settlement on either conflicting party.