U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised the current state of U.S.-Armenian relations on Friday as he congratulated Armenians on one of their main national holidays.
“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send my best wishes to the people of Armenia as you celebrate your independence day this September 21,” Kerry said in a statement.
“The United States values our relationship with Armenia, which remains as strong as ever, as evidenced by the historic level of American investment in Armenia’s economy today,” he said. “We are grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of Armenian troops serving in international peacekeeping missions and celebrate the many achievements of Armenians who have enriched the cultural fabric of both our nations.”
“As you celebrate 24 years of independence, know that the United States is a partner and friend and that we fully support the security, prosperity, and democratic development of Armenia,” added the statement.
President Serzh Sarkisian declared in July 2013 that the U.S.-Armenian relationship is now closer than ever before. He did so less than two months before unexpectedly deciding to make Armenia part of a new Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states. U.S. diplomats insisted afterwards that the surprise move will have no fundamental impact on Yerevan’s ties with Washington.
“The deep bonds between the United States and Armenia are strong,” Kerry said last year.
Sarkisian praised America’s role in maintaining peace in the South Caucasus when he visited Washington in May. He also thanked the U.S. for its large-scale economic assistance provided to Armenia since independence, saying that it has “strengthened Armenian statehood.”
The Armenian leader was not received by Obama during that visit, meeting instead with four influential U.S. senators. He also presided over the signing in Washington of a U.S.-Armenian Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
Under the agreement, the U.S. and Armenian governments are to set up a joint Council on Trade and Investment that will meet at least once a year to address obstacles to bilateral trade and explore other ways of deepening economic ties between the two countries. According to Armenian government statistics, the U.S. accounted for about 4 percent of Armenia’s foreign trade last year.
While in Washington, Sarkisian also announced the impending sale of Armenia’s largest hydroelectric complex to a U.S. energy company, ContourGlobal. The $250 million deal, signed in Yerevan in early June, marked the single largest U.S. investment in the Armenian economy. ContourGlobal also became the first Western firm to buy a major asset in the Armenian energy sector dominated by big Russian corporations.