Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the “truly friendly character” of Russia’s relations with Armenia and expressed confidence that they will grow even closer after holding talks with his visiting Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday.
“Russia and Armenia are sincerely seeking to reinforce their mutually beneficial cooperation and comprehensive strategic partnership,” he told reporters in the Kremlin.
“We will be making joint efforts to further strengthen our strategic alliance,” Sarkisian said for his part.
A separate joint communique released by Putin and Sarkisian said they will strive to realize “the huge potential of Russian-Armenian relations” in the political, economic and military areas.
Both leaders hailed a sizable rise in Russian-Armenian trade which was recorded last year despite economic recessions in both countries.
“Russia is Armenia’s leading trading partner,” Putin stressed. He also pointed to Russian investments in Armenia’s energy, mining and transport sectors.
While pledging to help boost Russian-Armenian commercial ties, the two leaders announced no concrete agreements to that effect. Putin said only that the two governments are now considering using each other’s national currency in bilateral trade.
Visiting Moscow in late January, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian called for the creation of a Russian-Armenian “investment fund” that would finance business projects in Armenia. He said afterwards that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev “positively assessed the proposal.” Neither Putin nor Sarkisian mentioned the matter in his statements to the press.
Predictably, the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was also on the agenda of Sarkisian’s latest official visit to Moscow. The joint statement said the two leaders agreed on the need to bolster the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone with concrete measures that were worked out at Armenian-Azerbaijani summits held last year.
Putin hosted one of those meetings in Saint-Petersburg in June 2016. Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signaled progress towards a peaceful settlement after those talks. However, the peace process stalled again in the following weeks.
“Russia is continuing to render all kinds of support to the search for mutually acceptable solutions to the conflict both within the framework of the OSCE Mins Group and in direct contacts with Yerevan and Baku,” Putin said on Wednesday. He gave no details of his Karabakh-related discussion with Sarkisian or signal plans to arrange fresh peace talks.
Putin also noted that Sarkisian is visiting Moscow in the run-up to Armenia’s parliamentary elections. He said the authorities in Yerevan are making “every effort” to ensure that the vote is democratic.
“I would like to wish you success in this endeavor,” Putin told the Armenian leader. “Russia is sincerely interested in a stable, independent and dynamically developing Armenia.”