Armenia’s relations with the United States have expanded significantly in recent years and are now closer than ever before, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Tuesday in a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama.
“In recent years, the close partnership between our countries has registered considerable advancement and today, at the pinnacle of our interstate relations, we have achieved an unprecedented scale of cooperation in different areas,” Sarkisian wrote as he congratulated Obama on U.S. Independence Day.
“We highly value assistance provided by the United States to Armenia, to our economic development, as well as to the consolidation of democratic institutions and civil society,” read the letter. “We are keenly interested in utilizing in full the substantial potential existing in our bilateral relations and elevating them to a new level.”
Sarkisian also visited the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan on the occasion. Speaking to Ambassador John Heffern and other American diplomats, he said he regards close ties with the U.S. as a “strong prerequisite” for Armenia’s economic development and regional security. “It is therefore very natural that we want to strengthen those relations,” he added in video remarks posted on the presidential website.
“Our first priority here in terms of building our relationship is economics … So let’s keep working on that together,” Heffern said for his part.
Sarkisian has sought closer partnership with Washington throughout his five-year rule. He has specifically deepened bilateral security ties, sending Armenian troops to Afghanistan and Kosovo. The Armenian leader has also earned accolades in Washington with his U.S.-backed controversial policy of rapprochement with Turkey.
Obama gave a huge boost to Sarkisian’s international legitimacy when he congratulated the latter on winning a second term in a disputed presidential election last February. “Your reelection presents opportunities to advance the relationship between our two countries and to build your legacy as a leader who solidifies Armenia's reforms and furthers the cause of peace for your people and the people of your region,” Obama said.
Sarkisian received no congratulatory message from Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, when he became president in even more disputed circumstances in 2008.