Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was full of praise for what he described as Armenia’s ongoing transition to democracy when he met with the country’s leaders in Yerevan late on Friday.
Trudeau held talks with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and President Armen Sarkissian during his first-ever official visit to the South Caucasus country timed to coincide with a summit of French-speaking nations held in the Armenian capital. The talks were followed by an official dinner given by Pashinian.
“Right now around the world we see challenges in various democracies with the rise of populism, with politics of division, with challenges of countries moving further away from democracy,” Trudeau said at the dinner. “And here in Armenia you are moving strongly and proudly in the right direction, in the democracy direction.”
“The focus you, Nikol, have brought on connecting with people, on serving people and on empowering people through democracy and economic opportunities, but mostly through pride and confidence in the future they are building, is truly extraordinary,” he added.
According to the Armenian premier's office, Trudeau told Pashinian at their meeting earlier in the day that Canada, which has a thriving Armenian community, stands ready to help Armenia attract foreign investment and upgrade its public infrastructures.
In his opening remarks at the talks, the Canadian leader said he was “overwhelmed” by a warm reception he received in Yerevan. “Over these past days it’s been just wonderful to be so warmly welcomed and it’s a real pleasure to be here,” he said.
“The people of Canada & Armenia are at the heart of the special relationship between our two countries – and tie us together in so many ways,” Trudeau tweeted after the dinner with Pashinian and Sarkissian.
For his part, Pashinian lavished praise on Trudeau, saying that Armenians have “positive attitudes towards your country and you personally.” “I hope that the personal relationship established between us will help to elevate the already warm relations between our countries to a new level,” he said.
Pashinian, who came to power in May in what is widely regarded in Armenia as a democratic “velvet revolution,” then handed Trudeau a copy of the Armenian translation of the latter’s memoir published in 2014.