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Russian President Vladimir Putin promptly congratulated Armen Sarkissian on being elected Armenia’s new president on Friday.

In a congratulatory message reported by the Kremlin, Putin expressed confidence that Sarkissian will contribute to a “further development” of Russian-Armenian relations and “deepening of Eurasian integration to the benefit of the brotherly peoples of the two countries.”

Sarkissian has avoided detailed public statements on foreign policy issues since being nominated for president by the outgoing President Serzh Sarkisian in January. But he did stress the economic importance of Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) when he addressed the parliament on Thursday.

“Armenia joined the EEU, which is an important and significant fact for the simple reason that a republic of three million people cannot be of much interest to a large investor,” said the 64-year-old former scholar. Tariff-free access to the markets in Russia and other EEU member states makes Armenia far more attractive to investors, he added.

Sarkissian, who has lived in Britain for nearly three decades, at the same time praised Armenia’s Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the European Union signed in November.

Since the early 2000s the Armenian president-elect has advised major Western corporations on doing business in Russia, Kazakhstan and other ex-Soviet states.

Under Armenia’s recently amended constitution, Sarkissian will have largely ceremonial powers. He will be able, among other things, to sign international treaties recommended by the Armenian government.

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