Working visit of the President Vahagn Khachaturyan to the Kingdom of Belgium
As part of his working visit to Brussels, President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan had a meeting with the permanent rapporteur on the issues of Armenia in the European Parliament, Andrey Kovatchev, at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia.
During the meeting, the sides discussed the current security challenges in the South Caucasus region, particularly the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and overall regional developments. In this regard, Vahagn Khachaturyan drew Andrey Kovatchev's attention to the need for protecting the fundamental rights of more than one hundred thousand forcibly displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh and addressing the humanitarian issues.
During the discussion, President Vahagn Khachaturyan underscored that Armenia's unequivocal position is to achieve sustainable and lasting peace in the region and the establishment of good relations with its neighbors, which is in the best interest of all countries of the region.
At the meeting, the interlocutors touched upon the current state of and possible threats to the Armenian cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh and the need for its protection and preservation.
President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan had a working lunch with Members of the European Parliament François-Xavier Bellamy, Lars Patrick Berg, Jordi Solé, Andrius Kubilius, Rasa Juknevičienė and Bert-Jan Ruissen.
During the lunch, a wide range of issues related to the further deepening and consistent development of Armenia-EU multi-level cooperation were discussed.
The participants touched upon the overall situation and ongoing developments in the South Caucasus region. In this context, ideas were exchanged on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the pathways of protecting the rights of those forcibly displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh as well addressing the humanitarian issues.
As part of his working visit to Brussels, President Vahagn Khachaturyan attended the official opening ceremony of the Global Gateway conference.
During the conference, the President had a brief talk with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during which the President of the European Commission reaffirmed her readiness to provide multi-level support to Armenia.
The President of the Republic of Armenia had brief talks with the Deputy President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič, the Prime Minister of Egypt Mostafa Madbouly, European Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen.
As part of the Global Gateway conference in Brussels, the President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan was present at the signing of the statement on the finalization of the investment grant agreement for establishing two SMART educational centers in the Syunik region of the Republic of Armenia.
The statement was signed by EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and Vice President of the European Investment Bank Thomas Östros.
Emphasizing the importance of establishing such educational centers, President Vahagn Khachaturyan noted, "Today, an important step was taken towards the implementation of 2 informal educational centers to be constructed in the Syunik region of the Republic of Armenia and operated by "COAF." This can help to further strengthen the link between formal and non-formal education, as the latter is an essential auxiliary to the former. Moreover, the construction of these smart centers in Syunik will contribute to the bigger goal of developing the southern regions of Armenia."
President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas within the framework of his working visit to Brussels.
During the meeting, the President touched upon the humanitarian, socio-economic issues of more than one hundred thousand forcibly displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh, and the prospects of taking effective steps by the international community to address them.
In his speech, the President also highly appreciated the support of the European Union and EU member states to the programs of the Armenian government to address the issues of forcibly displaced persons.
During the discussion, the sides addressed the further deepening of the Armenia-EU partnership, as well as the prospects of developing the bilateral cooperation between Armenia and Estonia.
Both sides emphasized the consistent promotion of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
The President of the Republic Vahagn Khachaturyan delivered a speech at the panel discussion entitled "Digital Infrastructures" held as part of the Global Gateway conference in Brussels.
President Vahagn Khachaturyan's speech:
First of all, I would like to thank President von der Leyen for this important initiative to hold the inaugural Global Gateway Forum and for bringing together a great number of high-level participants to exchange views on vital topics.
Armenia has always been committed to expanding partnership with the European Union, its Member States and other partners in all areas of mutual interest for the sake of prosperity of our peoples.
More specifically, connectivity projects have been among the priorities of the Armenian Government for quite some time and we stand ready to take further joint steps to use the huge potential of the Global Gateway, including to make possible green energy export to Europe. Armenia is keen to explore its participation in regional connectivity projects, including the Black Sea Underwater Electricity and Fiber-Optic Cables.
Regrettably, we see continuous efforts by some countries to isolate us from regional and trans-regional projects. In this regard, we rely on the EU partners’ understanding and support.
Another important initiative is the “EU4Digital” program to support the digital reform agenda in Armenia. It promotes key areas of digital economy and society in line with EU norms and practices, in order to bring economic growth, generate more jobs, improve people’s lives and help businesses. The program builds on a long history of Armenia-EU partnership in the field of e-governance and digitalisation.
I believe we should also consider promoting cooperation in the area of artificial intelligence where Armenia already has significant achievements. I am convinced that there is no need to elaborate on the importance of AI (artificial intelligence), just to mention that it can serve as yet another tool for our common goal of ensuring broader connectivity.
What we also need now is to jointly speed up the implementation of the EaP Economic and Investment Plan and namely its five flagship initiatives designed for Armenia. To do so we need strong coordination, cooperation and determination. One of the flagship initiatives for Armenia - is Investment in digital transformation, innovation, science and technology.
Speaking about the flagships, yesterday I was pleased to attend the signing of the Statement of Intent by Commissioner Varhelyi (Վարհեյ) and EIB Vice-President Fayolle on the realisation of two education centres to be constructed in the Syunik Region of Armenia and operated by the COAF (Children of Armenia Fund). Started as a singular infrastructure improvement project it grew into a holistic initiative. Through the delivery of education, healthcare resources, social services, and career training, in conjunction with economic and infrastructure initiatives, COAF has made an impactful difference in 82 communities. Over the last two decades the project has positively altered the lives of over 100,000 youth. The COAF project along with TUMO creative education centre are sort of Armenia’s know-how, that we are keen to share with others as a concept to promote kids’ innovative and visionary ideas.
This will help to further strengthen the links between formal and non-formal education. Moreover, the construction of these smart centres in Syunik will contribute to developing the southern regions of Armenia.
The rapid technological development and the increasing role of technology and digitalization in everyday life provide opportunities for enhanced communication and cooperation across continents. However, that has also increased different kind of threats and information manipulation techniques. In this sense, we stand ready to deepen our cooperation with the EU and other interested partners in fighting hybrid and cyber threats, disinformation, which directly target democracy and the democratic institutions in Armenia.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
During the last couple of years and especially after the ethnic cleansing and the mass exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, we are facing unprecedented challenges, which, increased the importance of access to secure and reliable digital infrastructure and technologies. I believe a genuine political will and determination of political leaders to establish just peace in our region are preconditions for developing such infrastructures.
I want to take this opportunity to stress that Armenia is fully committed to the reopening of the North-South and East-West communications in the region, including through the territory of Armenia. This will link the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf. And this can not only serve as a long-term guarantee of stability and development in the region, but also become an important link for global economic cooperation. Armenia is keen to become part of regional projects within the concept of “Crossroads of Peace”.
Ladies and gentlemen, as an economics professor I would like to conclude my statement by telling a very obvious truth: the investment in knowledge pays the best interest. Absence of peace in many regions, including my one region forces us to spend enormous resources for defence and weaponry. Once we come to a clear understanding, that by investing rather in education we invest in our future, we will have an interconnected, predictable and prosperous world with many open global gateways worldwide.