Official visit of the President Armen Sarkissian to Vatican
The official visit of the President of the Republic Armen Sarkissian to the Holy See started with a tête-á-tête talk with Pope Francis this morning.
The President of Armenia thanked His Holiness for the high-level and constructive dialogue between the Holy See and Armenia. "As the first ambassador of Armenia to the Holy See, it is a great spiritual satisfaction for me to return to the Apostolic Palace," said the President of Armenia, noting that he remembers with special pride and warmth the exhibition "Rome-Armenia. Two Thousand Years of Relations" opened at the Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library in March 1999, within the framework of celebrating the 1700 years of adopting Christianity as state religion in Armenia, also showcasing the rich historical-cultural past.
According to President Sarkissian, 2021 is a special year for the Armenian-Vatican relations, marking the 20 and 5 years of the visits of St. John Paul II and His Holiness to Armenia. "These historical visits will always be bright in the hearts and minds of the Armenian people," said President Sarkissian, emphasizing the principled position of Pope Francis on the Armenian Genocide.
The President noted with gratitude that at this stage of hard and heavy challenges for our country, the Vatican extended a hand of solidarity to our state and people. The best evidence of this is the messages of peace made by Pope Francis during the war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh, as well as the call of setting free Armenian prisoners of war.
The President of Armenia noted that the Artsakh issue is a human rights issue, a demand of the Armenian people to live, create and exercise their inalienable right to self-determination in their ancient Christian cradle.
The President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian, who is in the Vatican on an official visit, met with the Secretary of State of the Holy See Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The Secretary of State for Relations with the States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher also attended the meeting.
The President of the Republic once again emphasized the continuous development of the interstate relations between Armenia and the Holy See, emphasizing the significant contribution of the Secretary of State in that matter. "We appreciate the messages delivered by His Holiness during the war that afflicted the Armenian people last year, and after that, the humanitarian aid to Ashotsk Hospital," said President Sarkissian.
The President reaffirmed Armenia's interest and commitment to deepen interstate relations with the Holy See, noting that they have always been characterized by high political dialogue, based not only on Christian values but also on common historical and spiritual heritage and similar approaches to the challenges of the modern world.
The President of Armenia welcomed the decision of His Holiness to establish an Apostolic Diocese in Yerevan, which will be officially inaugurated soon, once again proving the mutual commitment to develop the interstate relations between Armenia and the Holy See and to deepen the cooperation.
President Sarkissian and Cardinal Parolin also spoke about cultural cooperation. The interlocutors stressed the existing fraternal relations and strong ties between the Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, and Armenian Catholic churches.
President of the Republic Armen Sarkissian and his wife Nouneh Sarkissian visited St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, toured the Cathedral and viewed the statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator in the outer niche of the Cathedral.
President Sarkissian also visited the Vatican Museums and viewed the art collections of the Popes, which include the most famous classical sculptures and Renaissance masterpieces.
President Armen Sarkissian visited and laid flowers at the bronze statue of St. Gregory Narekatsi, the great son of the Armenian people, proclaimed the Archpriest of the Ecumenical Church, standing in the heart of the Catholic world, in the gardens of the Vatican, next to the great saints. The President noted that Gregory Narekatsi and his legacy are an eternal symbol of solidarity between the two Christian communities.
President Sarkissian also visited the part of the Vatican Gardens where the Armenian khachkar, donated by Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin I to Pope John Paul II in 1996, is installed.
In the Vatican on an official visit, the President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian visited the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Holy See, and met with the Chairman of the Pontifical Council Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi.
At the meeting, they discussed issues on the development of cooperation between the Holy See and Armenia.
President Sarkissian stressed that there is a great potential for deepening cooperation between the Holy See and Armenia in the spheres of preserving cultural, educational, and historical heritage. The interlocutors noted with satisfaction the implementation of joint initiatives, reflecting the historical, cultural, and civilizational commonalities of the two countries.
The interlocutors noted with satisfaction the implementation of joint initiatives reflecting the historical, cultural and civilizational commonalities of the two countries.
Touching upon the development of interstate relations between Armenia and the Holy See, the President of Armenia and the Cardinal noted that the Memorandum of Understanding on cultural cooperation signed during the visit would provide an opportunity to conduct joint research on issues of historical and cultural significance. "We hope that it will stimulate and strengthen the ties between the Holy See and Armenia in culture, science, archaeology, and other spheres," said President Sarkissian.
At the end of the meeting, Armenian Ambassador to the Holy See Karen Nazaryan and the Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Culture Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi signed the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in culture between the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia and the Pontifical Council for Culture of the Holy See.