On a state visit to Italy, Armenian Presidents Armen Sarkissian held a private meeting with his Italian counterpart Sergio Matarella, followed by a meeting of the delegations in an expanded format.
President Sarkissian thanked the President of Italy for the invitation and the warm welcome, emphasizing that the reciprocal visits and state visits of the two presidents in recent years testify to the high level of Armenian-Italian relations.
Noting that the friendship between the two Christian countries and the two peoples has millennia-long history, the President added: “We live in the 21st century, and I hope that with this visit we will lay the foundations for the relationship for the next 2000 years. I want to thank you, as well as your government, for your support to Armenia during the difficult days of COVID-19, which continues to this day.”
President Sarkissian thanked President Matarella, the Government and the people of Italy for their compassion for the Armenian people, and the resolution adopted by the Italian Parliament on March 2 this year, which calls on Azerbaijan to release the Armenian prisoners of war. President Sarkissian also welcomed the documents adopted by about 50 regional and city councils in Italy in defense of Artsakh and its people.
Touching upon the 44-day war, its consequences and the Nagorno Karabakh issue, President Sarkissian noted that the issue of Artsakh’s status remains unresolved, and the solution is the negotiated way with the support of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. “We look to the future with the hope that the ceasefire will one day bring peace, and that we will engage in creative work with our friends, particularly Italy, strengthening our cooperation in political, legal, financial fields, new technologies, culture, science, education, and other areas. I have arrived in Italy for that purpose.”
Welcoming the visit of the President of Armenia and the delegation headed by him to Italy, Sergio Matarella particularly noted that he has warm memories from his visit to Armenia in 2018. “I am confident that this visit will give a new impetus to their continuous development. This is the first time that the President of Armenia pays a state visit to the Quirinale Palace. There is a long-standing friendship between Italy and Armenia, which has been further strengthened by our personal friendship. I remember you call me in March 2020, when Italy was living a Covid-related crisis,” he said.
“Armenia is a priority country for us. Today we have allocated 45,000 doses of COVID 19 vaccine for Armenia. We were able to help each other during these tragic events,” said President Matarella. The President of Italy expressed his condolences to the victims of the Nagorno Karabakh war. “We are absolutely convinced that a final solution can be found through the negotiation process. It is necessary to create a bilateral constructive atmosphere in order to settle the situation. The role of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in resolving the situation is very important. Armenia is a reliable partner for us in the region,” the President added.
Issues related to the deepening and expansion of bilateral relations in various spheres were also discussed at the meeting. The Presidents agreed that the two countries have great potential for developing cooperation, particularly in the fields of high technology, artificial intelligence and food security, tourism, finance and banking, state-building, and strengthening of democratic institutions.
The potential and prospects of cooperation in the development of scientific, technical and technological spheres were touched upon. In this context, they spoke about the possibilities of implementing joint projects with Italian companies within the framework of the Armenian President’s ATOM (Advanced Tomorrow) initiative.
It was noted that Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement signed with the European Union, provide new opportunities for the expansion of cooperation between Armenia and Italy, especially in the economic sphere. Besides, by investing in Armenia, Italian businessmen will be able to enter the Eurasian Economic Union market without customs duties.
According to the Presidents, one of the commonalities of the two peoples is the existence of a large Diaspora. Emphasizing the effective use of the potential of the Diaspora, they stressed that the heritage of the Armenian community in Italy, the Mekhitarist Congregation, pushes the two countries for closer cooperation.
From the point of view of strengthening the historically friendly ties between the two peoples, the cooperation in the field of education, preservation and restoration of cultural heritage was emphasized.
President Sarkissian emphasized the continuous activity of the chairs of Armenology in Italian universities, which will contribute to the development of Armenology in Italy.
The President of Italy thanked President Sarkissian for the exhibition of valuable works of Armenian art at the Quirinale Palace.
Within the framework of President Sargsyan’s state visit, documents on cooperation between the two countries in the fields of education, justice, healthcare and environment protection will be signed.