By Gayane Danielian
Armenia’s controversial Culture Minister Hovik Hoveyan was awarded two pedigree horses during a recent visit to a rich Gulf Arab state and tried unsuccessfully to present them to President Robert Kocharian on his return to Yerevan, it emerged on Friday.
Hoveyan revealed that he received the expensive gift from the ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, during the Armenian Cultural Week held from December 11-17 in one of the seven states making up the United Arab Emirates.
“I decided to donate them to the Armenian president,” he told reporters. “But the president said yesterday that he can’t accept such an expensive present because those horses are priceless.”
Hoveyan added that the Arab horses, which have yet to be delivered to Armenia, will therefore become state property. “They will contribute to the development of horse-breeding in Armenia,” said the minister whose repeated gaffes and controversial appointments nearly cost him his job earlier this year.
Kocharian was already presented with a horse during an official visit to Turkmenistan two years ago. Turkmen horses are considered equally thoroughbred around the world.
The Armenian cultural event in Sharjah involved exhibitions and artistic performances as well as contacts between intellectuals. A senior official from the emirate’s government was reported to state that it reflected “historical ties between the Arabic and Armenian cultures.”
There are about 3,000 Armenians living across the UAE. Kocharian visited Sharjah as part of a tour of several Gulf nations in April 2002.