RUSSIA, ARMENIA 'CLOSE STRATEGIC PARTNERS' - PRESIDENTS
Svetlana Andreyeva

The Voice of Russia
Aug 8 2012

Russia's annual trade with Armenia is back to the pre-crisis level of
about $1bn, and there is room for it to grow even further. Presidents
Vladimir Putin and Serge Sargsyan discussed this and other matters
at their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.

Their meeting closely coincided with the 20th anniversary of diplomatic
relations between Russia and Armenia and the 15th anniversary of the
Russian-Armenian friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance treaty.

After emerging from the talks, Mr Putin spoke for the press:

"We have discussed Russian-Armenian coordination within international
organizations, including the Commonwealth of Independent States and
the Collective Security Treaty Organization. We also devoted time to
post-Soviet integration and agreed to set up a bilateral commission
which would look into how Armenia can build cooperation with the
Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, the
Customs Union does not share land borders with Armenia. This obstacle,
however, can be successfully overcome with the help of international
agreements, signed by the Customs Union countries."

Mr Sargsyan reaffirmed Armenia's commitment to strengthening the
Collective Security Treaty Organization, which brings his country
together with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

In September, his country is to host exercises of the Collective
Rapid Deployment Force of the CSTO.

He also spoke about joint projects in the economy:

"These are long-term projects. They include several new generating
units at Armenia's Metsamor nuclear power plant and important
infrastructure installations on Armenian territory."

The Armenian President described Russia as a powerful factor of
strategic stability in the South Caucasus. He also accepted Putin's
offer of further Russian mediation on the issue Nagorny Karabakh, a
breakaway Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan. Mr Sargsyan
praised Russia's role in Karabakh as 'constructive' and 'conducive
to stability and peace'.