President Armen Sarkissian has heaped praise on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and said he will seek to bolster Armenia’s already close relations with Russia, describing them as a “strategic alliance.”
Sarkissian gave an interview to the official Russian TASS news agency hours after being sworn in as Armenia’s new and largely ceremonial head of state on Monday.
“Taking this opportunity, I sincerely wish Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who won a convincing victory in recent presidential elections in Russia, new great successes in his efforts to further develop his country’s economy and increase the well-being of its citizens and Russia’s role in the international arena,” he said.
“As president of Armenia, I certainly regard as a priority the further strengthening of the Armenian-Russian strategic alliance, friendship between our peoples and expansion of people-to-people contacts,” he added.
That alliance has a “firm historical base” which needs to be “preserved, enriched and constantly multiplied,” said Sarkissian.
Putin was one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate Sarkissian on being elected president by the Armenian parliament on March 2. He expressed confidence that Sarkissian will contribute to a “further development” of Russian-Armenian ties.
The new Armenian president told TASS that he hopes to visit Moscow “very soon.” “Armenia’s leaders have traditionally paid their first officials visits [abroad] to Moscow,” he said.
Sarkissian, who has lived in Britain for nearly three decades, described Russia as a “brotherly country.” “For many generations in Armenia and me in particular, Russian culture, art and literature has been and remains a source of inspiration,” said the 64-year-old. “It has played a role in the formation of my worldview.”