MOSCOW (RFE/RL)—Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian praised his Russian counterpart on Monday for his country’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and the development of Armenia-Turkey relations during talks held just days after Armenia signed conciliatory agreement with Turkey over the establishment of diplomatic relations.
“I want to thank you for your personal involvement in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Sarkisian said, for his part. “I want to thank Russia’s leadership and you personally for supporting the development of our relations with the Turkish Republic.”
A statement issued by the Kremlin after the meeting said Serzh Sarkisian and Dmitry Medvedev discussed ways of stepping up Russian-Armenian economic and military cooperation as well as “prospects for the realization of large-scale joint projects in the energy sphere.” The statement did not specify whether two men also touched upon the Karabakh conflict or Armenia’s ongoing rapprochement with Turkey welcomed by Moscow.
Welcoming his Armenian counterpart in his Gorki retreat outside Moscow, Medvedev recalled his trilateral meeting with Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev held Friday on the sidelines of a CIS summit in Moldova’s capital Chisinau. “I think that the Russian mediation in this process is also a very important measure of our relations,” he said.
The statement said Sarkisian pointed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s presence at the signing of Turkish-Armenian agreements to normalize bilateral relations in Zurich on Saturday alongside U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and top European diplomats. The Gorki talks continued behind closed doors, and it was not clear whether the two presidents discussed the issue in detail. None of them made statements afterwards.
Speaking to journalists in Zurich, Lavrov called for a speedy ratification of the agreements by the Turkish and Armenian parliaments. “The signatories have to ratify the protocols the sooner the better and get down to their realization in practice,” he said. Lavrov also said that Moscow is ready to assist in restoring rail communication between the two nations, alluding to the fact that Armenia’s rail network is managed by Russia’s state-run national railway company.
In his opening remarks, Medvedev also regretted a nearly 20 percent drop in the volume of Russian-Armenian trade this year resulting from the global economic downturn. “That is certainly unpleasant and we should think about how to make up for that,” he said. “But considering other areas, things are on the whole not bad,” added the Russian president.
“In my view, our arrangements of the past two-three years have allowed us to get close to qualitatively new steps in the spheres of economics, military-political and military-technical cooperation as well as the humanitarian sphere,” agreed Sarkisian.