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By Anna Saghabalian
President Robert Kocharian thanked Lithuania for its parliament’s recent recognition of the Armenian genocide as he received his visiting Lithuanian counterpart, Valdas Adamkus, on Tuesday.

In a resolution overwhelmingly approved last December, the Baltic state’s legislature, Sejmas, urged Turkey to “recognize historical facts” and drop its insistence that the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire did not constitute a genocide. The Turkish government denounced the move.

“The issue is very important for us and it is not just historical in nature as today our relations with Turkey are burdened by this historical reality,” Kocharian told reporters after talks with Adamkus. “I think that recognizing the genocide and coming to terms with history is extremely important for normalizing our [Turkish-Armenian] relations.”

He said Yerevan will continue to seek worldwide recognition of the genocide in collaboration with leaders of Armenian Diaspora communities.

Adamkus arrived in Yerevan on a official visit which appears to have focused on ways of restoring economic ties that used to exist between the two former Soviet republics. They announced plans to hold a Lithuanian-Armenian business forum in the near future.

A statement by Kocharian’s office said Armenia’s relations with the European Union, which Lithuania joined two years ago, were also on the agenda of the talks. Kocharian again stated that his country is interested in learning from Lithuania’s as well as neighboring Latvia’s and Estonia’s successful transition to democracy and the free market.

The Lithuanian president, for his part, made a case for political and economic integration in the South Caucasus. “We have discussed common regional policies,” he said. “I think it is about time our regions -- the South Caucasus and the Baltic states -- joined forces to build a better future. This is what we call a three-plus-three formula which I think will become reality after this meeting.”

(Photolur photo)
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