By Artem Chernamorian in Gyumri
Russia opened on Friday a consulate in Armenia’s second-largest city of Gyumri, describing the event as another a sign of close ties between the two countries.
The consulate will be based in a local hotel complex pending the construction of a new building. The white-blue-red Russian flag was hoisted there to the accompaniment of Russia’s national anthem.
Located near the Turkish border, Gyumri hosts the headquarters of the Russian military base stationed in Armenia. Its top brass attended the opening ceremony along with Russian diplomats and Armenian government officials, including Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
Sarkisian’s presence underscored the importance which Yerevan attaches to its military links with Moscow. The powerful minister is also the co-chairman of a Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation.
In a speech at the ceremony, Sarkisian said the opening of the consulate testifies to the “high level” of the bilateral relationship. He also announced that within the next “one and a half months” the two governments will work out final details of their assets-for-debt agreement.
The deal is aimed at settling Armenia’s $94 million debt to Russia.