12, 2011

Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan at the joint press conference with the President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman

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Distinguished Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I once again cordially welcome the President of friendly Lebanon, General Michel Suleiman in Armenia.

Armenia and the Armenian people have the warmest feelings toward Lebanon. We are linked by historical and cultural similarities and ages-long friendship; throughout the history we often together faced same oppressors, shared each other’s pain and joy. The Armenian people will never forget assistance provided to the thousands of the expelled Armenians on the hospitable Lebanese land.

It is no incidence that the Armenian authorities have always been paying particular attention to the expansion of cooperation with the Arab world, while for us Lebanon occupies a special role among these countries.

Moments ago, during the negotiations with President Suleiman, we have discussed the entire agenda of the Armenian-Lebanese relations and prospects of development. We ahve also exchanged views on the developments in the Middle East and the South Caucasus.

We have noted with satisfaction that our political relations are on the highest possible level which is testified by the active interaction and reciprocal visits. I stressed the importance of maintaining a regular political dialogue with Lebanon which is Armenia’s reliable partner not only in the regional but also in global context.

For my part, I reiterated Armenia’s readiness to continue to actively develop cooperation with Lebanon in political, trade and economic, cultural and educational and other areas of mutual interest. It is facilitated by over three dozen documents pertinent to different areas signed by our two countries. Today, that list has been augmented by another seven documents; among them agreements, which regulate bilateral economic cooperation, occupy a prominent place.

I would like to note with satisfaction progress registered in the area of investments. Nowadays, Lebanon is the fifth largest investor in Armenia. However, we are still distance away from the numbers that would satisfy us, thus at the negotiations stressed was once again the necessity to enhance bilateral trade and investments and establish closer ties between the business communities of the two states. We hope that the Lebanese-Armenian Friendship Association created lat May will give a new impetus to the development of trade and economic relations.

We stated that in the framework of our capabilities, Armenia and Lebanon have always been supporting each other in international structures on the issues of vital importance for both countries and we will continue to cooperate in the same spirit of mutual understanding and constructivism.

Naturally, we have discussed the Nagorno Karabakh issue. I noted that Azerbaijan is trying mulishly to present in the Islamic circles the conflict in the light of religious disagreements. I believe those who are more or less familiar with the history of the Armenian people and causes of the conflict will never believe such nonsense. But at the same time, we consider such approach to be extremely dangerous because there are also circles unfamiliar with the details and such anti-Armenian propaganda can have certain negative impact. In this case too, the unbiased and fair stance of friendly countries is important since any impartiality can breach a fragile balance and endanger stability in the region.

The Armenian people are thankful to friendly Lebanon for recognizing the Armenian Genocide at the parliamentary level. Also in the person of President Suleiman, I thanked the Government of Lebanon and country’s political leadership for assisting the Armenian community in organizing in Beirut of the events commemorating the Armenian Genocide.

I have also noted that we highly appreciate brotherly attitude toward the Armenians of Lebanon which results in the Armenian community’s full participation in the political, social and economic and cultural life of Lebanon and also consolidates their link with the Motherland, making them a unique bridge between our two countries.

I am very optimistic regarding the prospects of a mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation and confident that through our joint efforts in the nearest future we will register deepening and strengthening of our cooperation for the benefit of the enduring friendship of our two countries.

I also thanked Mr. President for his invitation to conduct an official visit to Lebanon. Needless to say, I have accepted it with great pleasure.

President Serzh Sargsyan and President of the Republic of Lebanon Michel Suleiman, who is Armenia on official visit, responded to the questions raised by the journalists at the joint press conference.

(Reporter of Al Manar TV Station Manar Sabagh): My first question is for the President of Lebanon related to the today’s explosion in Beirut which was aimed against the French. Who do you think is related to this explosion and who could be responsible for that explosion?

And my second question is for President Serzh Sargsyan: Have you discussed issues on the agreements you can reach in the international area for the benefit of the two countries and two peoples?

Michel Suleiman: There is no doubt that the purpose of the attack on the French troops or any other troops is to make them withdraw from the peace process and leave the country which will lead to the termination of the process. But I am confident that France, which is working hard toward the establishment of peace in the world, will never be hold back by provocations of such terrorist acts. I am also confident that the international community will not allow these terrorist acts to spread and expand as it happened, let’s say, 7-8 years ago. We, for our part, will spare no effort to withstand, in general, such acts of terror, to prevent them from occurring in the future. The people of Lebanon and Government of Lebanon express their profound gratitude to the peacekeeping contingent which is carrying out its mission in the framework of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, and the French in particular and sincerely wish those who have suffered today, a speedy recovery.

Serzh Sargsyan: We attach importance to the cooperation in international settings. There are many problems where we can assist each other. We are small nations. Both Armenia and Lebanon have security issues, and in the contemporary world it is much more efficient when the international community participates in the resolution of your security issues. Certainly, security of each country is to be provided by its army, its security forces, but, I repeat there are few countries in the world which can single-handedly provide for their own security.

The other area is culture. We have many issues which we, of course, can cooperate on. We and Lebanon both have liberal economies and, naturally, this is also a field for cooperation. Hence, we will develop our relations directly, on the bilateral level, as well as in the international structures and multilateral format.

(Reporter of the Armenian Public TV Abraham Gasparian): I direct my question to His Excellency President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman: Your colleague, President Serzh Sargsyan noted in his remarks that Azerbaijan has been trying to fit its anti-Armenian propaganda in the frame of inter-religious conflicts and toward that end has been using the platform of the Islamic Conference as an important stronghold of anti-Armenian propaganda. What’s position of Lebanon- a country in the Middle East with very friendly and close relations with Armenia – on that issue?

Michel Suleiman: Certainly, we have discussed the issue with President Sargsyan. Indeed, the issue has been raised in the Islamic Conference. Lebanon has always maintained that we will be against any decision in that organization which will be aimed against Armenia or Karabakh. We believe that the issue must be solved based on international law and the right of people for self-determination. I wish that the existing group, for instance, the Minsk Group as well as spiritual leaders, spare no effort to resolve this issue. We also want world’s great powers and countries spare no effort to solve issues such as the issue of Palestine, for example, the issue of Nagorno Karabakh, other issues as well, so that peace reigns in the world. And if we succeed in eliminating and pacifying these hot spots and reach stability, we will be helping the process and will defeat all terrorist acts which can happen in the world.

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