08, 2008

Iinterview of President Serzh Sargsyan to the Xinhua Chinese news agency

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Mister President, please name your favorite sports. Also, what do you wish to the Olympic teams of Armenia and China? And what are your expectations of the Armenian Olympic team?

Armenia is a sport loving country. Our small nation is famous in the world for the outstanding Armenian athletes and glorious pages of sport history. Though a country with a small population, Armenia has had quite a considerable impact on the history of world sport, and is present in the annals of the Olympic movement. One of the Armenian medieval kings – Varazdat, according to the ancient sources, back in 4th century became the Olympic champion in wrestling. In our times too many Armenian athletes entered the history by becoming winners and champions of the Olympic Games. Thus, as you can see, the Olympian blood is in our veins.

It is impossible not to love sports. I myself is a sport person: I am the Head of the Armenian Chess Federation – this is a sport where both Armenian and Chinese players have always shown excellent results, and our team is the current Olympic champion. Just like President of any country, I am happy when our athletes win and unhappy when there is something missing for getting the good results. Today in Armenia, just as anywhere else, Beijing is in the center of attention. I agree with the famous Olympian slogan, but still I think that each of the Armenian athletes has left for the Chinese capital to show excellent results and if possible even to win Olympic medals. I am leaving for Beijing in high spirits, I will be with our sportsmen and will support them.

Do you think sport and politics are connected?

Sport is first about friendship, competition comes next. There are many examples in history when sport facilitates good relations and friendship among the nations and countries.
For instance, the role of a table-tennis tournament in China in the mid-70s, the so-called “ping-pong” diplomacy, for the improvement of the Chinese-American relations, was great. I am confident that sport will continue to open new doors for friendship among the nations.

It’s been seven years since your visit to China in your capacity of the Minister of Defense. How do you feel about this trip? How do you think the Chinese Government managed the organization of the Games?

You are right, it’s been seven years since my last visit to the People’s Republic of China. At the time I was the Minister of Defense of Armenia. That visit left unforgettable impressions. Currently I am following China’s development carefully, I am happy for the success of the hardworking and peace-loving people of China. I am leaving for your country with great desire to see firsthand and familiarize with all the changes of the last years.

I have no doubt that China and the Chinese people have done their best so that the athletes and hundreds of thousands of fans are delighted with the organization of the XXIX Summer Olympic Games. I also now that the Chinese Olympic team has been getting ready for this competition very seriously. I wish the Olympic teams of Armenia and China great success and victories.

Friendship between Armenia and China has a rich history. Recently, the bilateral relations are developing even faster and more dynamically. How do you see the prospects of further development of the relations between the two countries, and in what areas Armenia sees the prospects of a closer cooperation?

China is a friendly state. Today’s high level of relations has a solid legal base, which includes more than 40 interstate and intergovernmental agreements. We have no problems in political area and share similar or close positions on regional and international issues. In Armenia we follow with great respect the reforms directed toward modernization and development of a socialist society implemented by the leadership of the People’s Republic of China.

In recent years, the turnover between our two countries increased manifold, one of the major projects - “Shansy-Nairit” – the construction of a chloropren rubber producing plant with 30 000 tons of the annual production capacity, is close to conclusion. There is also progress in the areas of agriculture, high technology, and humanitarian sphere. Long-term projects of cooperation in the areas of sport and culture are also under development. And still, despite all the mentioned about, I see huge potential for cooperation between our countries, and work should be continued.

Armenia is very excited about the invitation to participate in the Expo-2010 exhibition in Shanghai. We will try to show our achievements and the potential for further enhancement of relations between Armenia and China.

We are genuinely interested in the increased presence of China in the region, which would undoubtedly have a positive impact on the entire South Caucasus region. We salute the recent achievements and success of China on the international arena. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China plays a very important role in the world politics. China is a responsible member of the international community and we witness the unbiased and balanced position of China on many international and regional issues.

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