President convenes consultations on Armenian-Russian relations

President Serzh Sargsyan called today a consultation to discuss economic relations and cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the Russian Federation Vardan Toghanyan informed the President about the implementation of joint programs aimed at the furtherance of allied relations with Russia, complementing the Armenian-Russian multilateral cooperation with new programs, as well as addressing the problems and obstacles on the way to promoting the bilateral agenda.

Opening the meeting, the President noted that this year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation and went on to emphasize that any jubilee is a good opportunity to take a retrospective view at the past and outline new programs for the future. President Sargsyan underlined that Armenia and Russia managed to build up strong ties of allied partnership over the past 25 years that feature many mutually beneficial economic projects.

“I think that the growth in bilateral trade turnover – last year we stated a 15% increase in trade turnover, and what matters most to us, more than a 50% growth in exports – is also due Armenia’s membership of the Eurasian Economic Union in addition to many other factors. The EAEU membership and our strong relationship with the Russian Federation made it possible for Armenia to import Russian energy resources on preferential terms.

In general, I think that the Armenian-Russian relations are peculiar in that they have been built on the basis of strong ties of friendship. We can often witness the opposite in the modern world: economic relationship brings about friendship. In our case, friendship is the starting point, while economic relations come to strengthen it.

The Russian Federation is the largest investor in our country. Russian investments in Armenia account for 47% of total investment. The Russian equity is represented in all spheres of our economy. I believe that while the current status of economic relations reflects the high level of political dialogue between our two countries, yet there is a huge amount of untapped potential in this area, which can help further develop Armenia’s economy.

A valuable contribution is being made by our compatriots living in the Russian Federation – the Armenian community – who are not only developing the Russian economy, but are also investing in Armenia. They are playing a key role in the complex of bilateral relations through participation in almost all lifeline spheres. I consider that a large area of cooperation has emerged in the recent period, and we are just bound by duty to tap on these opportunities. I mean the tourism industry. Over the past five months, the number of Russian citizens visiting our country has increased by 25 percent as compared to the same period last year.

I am convinced that the annual yield will be much higher. This is a market which we must definitely use taking into account the fact that tourism is not only a business but also a very serious factor for strengthening relations between the two peoples. As I mentioned, we boast a hectic economic agenda: we are implementing large-scale projects. We will make a great mistake by being just satisfied with this. Here, Mr. Ambassador, I would like to you to report on our plans for the future. I want to know if there any barriers that we need to overcome, including the bottlenecks of legal-contractual character and the irresponsible attitude of officials on both sides,” President Serzh Sargsyan said.

Ambassador Vardan Toghanyan reported that bilateral cooperation continued to develop in 2016 and in the first half of 2017, covering new targeted areas and the priorities stemming from EAEU membership. The Ambassador said that in the context of developing allied relationship, tangible progress has been made in bilateral trade turnover and, in particular, in terms of Armenian exports to Russia. New prospects have emerged in the sphere of tourism owing to the Government’s decision to allow Russian citizens to enter Armenia with their internal passports. Vardan Toghanyan noted that either the educational and cultural exchanges have been high on the Armenian-Russian bilateral agenda.

“However, there are some bottlenecks on the way to expanding the trade turnover that are subject to thorough discussion and revision by the intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary commissions,” the Ambassador said, pointing to a number of financial and customs services-related restrictions on Armenian exports to Russia, some restrictions on labor migration of Armenian citizens, the insufficient representation of Armenian products in the regions of the Russian Federation and a number of other issues in need of coordination.

The Ambassador’s report featured suggestions for the promotion of Armenian-Russian trade and economic relations. Attended by the representatives of the ministers and government agencies concerned, the meeting discussed in all detail the indicators, problems and recommendations set out in Ambassador Toghanyan’s report, after which relevant instructions were issued by the President of the Republic.

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