David Dreier, chairman of a key committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, reportedly lavished praise on President Serzh Sarkisian as he visited Armenia together with three other congressmen on Sunday.
Dreier, who chairs the powerful House Rules Committee, and his colleagues arrived in Yerevan and met Sarkisian en route to Afghanistan. A statement by the Armenian presidential press office said they discussed “a broad range of issues related to developing and deepening U.S.-Armenian relations.”
“Your commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law can serve as an example to many others,” the statement quoted Dreier, a Republican from California, as saying during a dinner hosted by Sarkisian. It gave no further details.
The U.S. State Department criticized Armenia’s last presidential and parliamentary elections as “significantly flawed.” It has also remained critical of Yerevan’s human rights record during Sarkisian’s four-year presidency.
Still, in recent months top U.S. diplomats have welcomed what they as positive political developments in the country. Some of them have publicly stated that the Sarkisian government is committed to holding democratic elections.
The Armenian president was quoted by his office as again praising the current state of U.S.-Armenian ties. “This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of [Armenia’s] diplomatic relations with the United States and I am happy that we are marking this jubilee with relations between the two counties developing at the highest level,” he said.
Sarkisian also thanked the U.S. lawmakers for nearly $2 billion in economic assistance which Armenia has received from the United States since independence. He said “Armenia’s friends in the U.S. Congress” deserve much of the credit for that.