17:39 28/11/2012 POLITICS

President Serzh Sargsyan, who is Lebanon on an official visit, on
Tuesday had a meeting with the President of the National Assembly of
Lebanon Nabih Berri. Later, the meeting with the President of Armenia
continued in the extended format with the participation of the members
of the parliament, presidential press service reported.

The parties stressed the importance of the interparliamentary ties
in the development of the interstate relations, strengthening of
mutual trust, active cooperation between the parliaments of the two
countries, which, according to the parties, will also promote the
Armenian-Lebanese economic relations.

The importance of cooperation of the parliamentarians in the
international structures was also stressed at the meeting.

President Serzh Sargsyan and President of the National Assembly of
Lebanon Nabih Berri highlighted the necessity of the coordinated
and planned work of all state structures and parliaments of Armenia
and Lebanon for raising the relations of the two countries to a
qualitatively new level.

The interlocutors also spoke about the tense situation in some
Middle East countries and discussed possibilities of the resolution
of that tension.

Serzh Sargsyan presented to Nabin Berri challenges and problems
existing in our region, including the latest developments in the NK
peace process.

At the meeting with the President and members of the Lebanese
Parliament, President Sargsyan made a statement.

Distinguished Mr. Berri,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to have this opportunity to visit the friendly Lebanon
again - a country which for a considerable part of the Armenian nation
has become the second motherland. Taking this opportunity, I express
my deep gratitude to the President of the National Assembly of the
Republic of Lebanon, my good friend Nabih Berri for this invitation,
warm welcome and for the opportunity to share with you our objectives
regarding the Armenian-Lebanese cooperation and to present Armenia~Rs
position on a number of international issues.

The Armenian-Lebanese relations are not just those of partners ~V
these are friendly relations since Armenia and Lebanon are bonded by
the centuries-long friendship and strong historical and cultural ties.

Armenia and Lebanon began their joint journey through the crossroads
of history long, long ago. Very often, the courses of our two nations
went concurrently, as did our histories, destinies, and cultures. The
history proved, destiny decided, and culture harmonized all that. As
a result, a strong Armenian-Lebanese friendship emerged.

We will always remember with gratitude the indispensable assistance
offered by the people of Lebanon when as a result of the state policy
of extermination conceived and carried out in the Ottoman Turkey,
a large segment of the Armenian nation living and creating on its own
land was subjected to the genocide and had to leave its homeland. The
hospitable, considerate and tolerant Lebanon became a shelter where
the fragments of the Armenian nation had found a refuge and safe
haven, became stronger, drew themselves up, actively participating
and integrating into the political, social and economic, cultural
life of Lebanon, at the same time preserving their rich national
culture and values.

I take this opportunity to express gratitude to the distinguished
President of the National Assembly of Lebanon Nabih Berri and members
of the parliament for the serious steps which Lebanon, unlike other
countries of the region, has undertaken toward the recognition of
the Armenian Genocide and adoption of the resolutions condemning
it, earning thus a boundless admiration and respect of the entire
Armenian nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

>>From day one of independence, the leadership of Armenia has been
attaching great importance to the development and expansion of its
cooperation with the Arab world. Our first embassies were established
in Arab countries. Undoubtedly, because of the reasons mentioned
above, in the Arab world, Lebanon holds a special place for Armenia
and Armenians. We view Lebanon as Armenia~Rs and Armenian nation~Rs
precious friend and reliable partner.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of
diplomatic relations between Armenia and Lebanon. During this visit,
I have had opportunities to speak about our political dialogue,
economic cooperation, and high-level people to people contacts. At
this point, I would like to speak in particular about the development
of the Armenian-Lebanese interparliamentary relations which were among
the first in the modern Armenian-Lebanese relations to be established
through the agreement signed in 1993. I believe, you personally, Mr.

Berri, deserve credit for this, you who for the last two decades has
always been on the first line of the Armenian-Lebanese cooperation
and brotherhood. Today, the Armenian-Lebanese interparliamentary
cooperation is developing dynamically.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nowadays it is almost impossible, to efficiently resist current
challenges without assistance from friends. The changing nature
of these challenges and their geographical extension have created a
situation when cooperation between states has become an imperative. We
are guided by the conviction that we all are responsible for the
establishment of peace and prosperity in the world. Fully cognizant of
the seriousness and supranational character of the existing challenges,
the Republic of Armenia has adopted a course of creating a mutually
beneficial cooperation with all countries based on good will.

Dear Friends,

Unfortunately, the South Caucasus and Middle East continue to
remain explosive areas, full of contentions and conflicts. Armenia
is concerned with the events unfolding in the Middle East: today they
have become a priority for us and an item on Armenia~Rs foreign policy
agenda. The Arab world has entered a serious transition stage which
requires great patience, tenacity and faith to overcome. A wave of
democratic upheavals, which is sadly not bloodless, is conditioned
by a number of deep-rooted factors which have objective as well
as subjective causes. They are of a social, economic and political
nature. In a nutshell, evidently these processes are based on the
rising demands of the population to improve and modernize state
structures, and in some cases the authorities are not prepared for such
reforms. As a result, a number of countries have to face challenges
such as selection of the type of governing, constitutional changes,
organization of presidential and political elections, implementation
of democratic reforms, etc. However the greatest challenge is the
establishment of peace and stability, as well as the cessation of

We are deeply concerned with the destiny of the Syrian people.

Continuous armed clashes and terrorist acts are simply unacceptable.

One cannot watch without pain the ongoing bloodshed and watch the
country being destructed day after day. I am confident that the
existing situation is also a result of some regional countries~R
proclivity to solve some of their problems with the blood of the Syrian
people. Armenia has always advocated the ending of the bloodshed and
a peaceful resolution of the conflict by the Syrians themselves.

Along with the brotherly people of Syria, thousands of the Syrian
Armenians are also going through the hard times. Armenia~Rs position on
that issue is clear-cut too: this is a calamity which must be conquered
together. And we urge our Armenian brothers in Syria to struggle
for the speedy re-establishment of peace in Syria ~V their second
motherland which had once received them with open hearts. The Armenian
Diaspora of Syria is a historically formed, strong and viable community
which we are really proud of. Armenia and the entire Armenian nation
have been and will continue to support the people of Syria in their
desire to find peace in their own home and to preserve their hearths.

Prosperous and dignified life is an inalienable right of every nation
in the world. Today, many peoples are struggling for the values which
were enrooted in Lebanon long ago. Certainly, it was a difficult
road for you too, however ultimately you became the regional leader
of democracy, since from day one, the development of your country
has been based on the principles of political and civil liberties,
diversity, and equality. That road was difficult also because the
neighbors of Lebanon were not ready for it, and for that Lebanon paid
dearly. This is a reality which we, Armenians, unfortunately are also
well familiar with.

Today, Lebanon indeed feels the results of the unfavorable regional
developments. We were deeply shaken and condemned strictly the
terrorist act which occurred in Beirut on October 19. Expressing
our condolences to the families of the victims, we express hope
that that dismal provocation will not shatter peace in Lebanon. We
have no doubt that the collective wisdom of the country~Rs political
leadership and undertaken practical steps aimed at the establishment
of the atmosphere of national dialogue and mutual trust will preclude
Lebanon from serious shocks. I am confident that the Armenian community
of Lebanon, which once received a warm welcome from you, will always
stand by you. The Armenian authorities in their turn are ready within
the scope of our abilities to support Lebanon and the Armenians of
Lebanon in addressing issues before you.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our region unfortunately is also familiar with the calamities of war;
we know what the imposed war is and how fertile soil which breeds
hatred is being created. Quite recently, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh
in response to their peaceful demand for their basic and legitimate
right for self-determination were forced to face and win the war
imposed on them by Azerbaijan. In the dilemma of the exodus from their
homeland and self-defense, the heroic people of Nagorno- Karabakh
chose the second. Paying price in numerous victims and great blood,
they won the right to live free on their own land.

Now, Azerbaijan spares no effort to present a distorted version of the
problem, spreading disinformation in various structures and misleading
different countries. In some settings, Azerbaijan is trying to present
the issue as a conflict on religious grounds which cannot be further
from the truth. Armenia~Rs warm, friendly relations with many of
the Islamic states prove our openness for a dialogue with different
religions and civilizations. Regrettably Azerbaijan nevertheless
occasionally succeeds through the exploitation of the Islamic
solidarity in forming a distorted position regarding the NK conflict.

Using this opportunity, I would like to once again to express my
heartfelt gratitude to Lebanon for its balanced position on the NK
issue and for the assistance provided in the framework of international
organizations. Your unbiased position contributes to the stability
in our region.

Despite the ceasefire, today Azerbaijan continues to shell not only the
borders of Karabakh but also borders of Armenia, killing innocent young
people. In response to all efforts of the international community
to solve the problem through peaceful means, Azerbaijan carries
on with its bellicose rhetoric and unprecedented accumulation of
weaponry. Just one example: according to different sources, weaponry
purchased by Azerbaijan from Israel exceeds 1,5 billion dollars price
tag. It is no accident that Azerbaijan refuses to cooperate on any
proposal by the mediators to establish confidence building measures
such as removal of snipers from the line of contact, or creation of
the mechanism for the investigation of the border incidents.

Moreover, the Azeri authorities continue with great ardor to inject
their people with hatred and animosity toward Armenians. How else
would you comment on the statement by the leader of that country that
~SArmenians all over the world are Azerbaijan~Rs number one enemy?~T
Here, from this high podium, I state with the utmost responsibility
that there is no nation in the world whom Armenia and Armenians would
call their enemy. And it is quite natural. Our enemy is xenophobia
which is so abundantly is being infused into the young generation of
Azerbaijan. Our enemies are extremism and intolerance which for some
have become dreams to erase Armenia and Karabakh from the world map,
to cleanse them of Armenians, as once another part of Azerbaijan ~V
Autonomy of Nakhichevan was cleansed.

As a result of this shortsighted policy, the people of Azerbaijan
will never be ready for a peaceful coexistence, even if the agreement
on the solution of the problem is reached somehow. After all, neither
Armenia, nor I guess Azerbaijan are not going anywhere from our region,
thus a prospect of the peaceful and prosperous South Caucasus is not
a choice but a requirement.

Dear Friends,

It~Rs been a while since Turkey and Azerbaijan, standing shoulder to
shoulder, continue the illegal blockade of Armenia which although
has harmed and impeded our country~Rs development and prosperity,
nevertheless has not been able to derail our advancement. I believe
the time has come for our neighbors to look realistically at the
events going on in the region, to reevaluate the efficiency of their
steps. Maybe in that case, our weary peoples will get a hope of a
peaceful and concordant future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Twenty-one years ago, the reestablishment of independence opened
a new page in the Armenian history. Armenia has adopted the course
of democratic development and stays that course. Overcoming scores
of objective and artificial hurdles, today we have strong Armenian
statehood, political stability, powerful Army, open and multifunctional
economy, reliable financial system, strong social structures, and
citizens well-aware of their rights.

One of the most cherished objectives of the Armenian leadership is to
pass over to future generations values which are aimed for a stable,
secure, peaceful and harmonious existence. Such future can be created
only together with friends. I am confident that Armenia and Lebanon
will go down that long road together.

Allow me to express thanks for your attention and wish the Republic
of Lebanon lasting stability and prosperity, and unbreakable peace
and new achievements to the brotherly people of Lebanon.

Long live the Armenian-Lebanese friendship!