It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you and your spouse along with the delegation accompanying you on your state visit to Greece.
Greece and Armenia are linked by strong historical bonds of friendship and currently, the booming and dynamically active Armenian community in Greece and the Greek community in Armenia act as links in so far as communication and contacts between our two peoples are concerned.
In the 20th century our nations went through painful trials and tribulations. We shall not forget about the Armenian genocide of 1915, nor will we forget the genocide of the Pontian Greeks. We are proud of the fact that Greece was one out of very few countries which gave asylum to persecuted Armenians. Our countries are natural allies and we are pursuing the deepening of our strategic relations on all levels.
The current global financial crisis affects us all. We, nonetheless, need to acknowledge reality. Europe is steadily losing ground in the field of international trade and the Eurozone cannot simply survive on strict penalties alone. European integration actually moved forward at a time of prosperity. Weaknesses of institutions were then overlooked. A monetary union in the absence of a fiscal one is a contradiction in terms; it does not promote European integration, it solves not the problem. What is called for is real financial convergence, a new vision, a leap forward.
The Hellenic-Armenian Business Forum is due tomorrow. It provides scope for a strong boost to bilateral financial, trade and cultural relations while opening up new routes for cooperation offering varied and promising prospects.
It is especially gratifying that there are university faculties teaching of the Greek language in Armenia. I am also pleased as Armenian students attending Greek universities and they, once they are back home, will also act as links between the two countries. Moreover, the fact that officers who pursued their studies in Greek military colleges are serving in the armed forces of your country is also important.
The European Union attaches great importance to the Caucasus area. In this framework, we are supportive of the real development of EU-Armenian relations, as Armenia is a country with historically European roots of culture and traditions. It is a European country.
Greece is linked to the Caucasus area with history-old ties. We are supportive of fostering conditions of safety and security in that area as we believe these can lead to regional cooperation and financial prosperity.
My country insists on the peaceful settlement of disputes in the field of foreign policy. This is what we endorse and believe in as concerns a solution to the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. The OSCE Minsk Group framework is the most appropriate to solve the issue and we hope a desirable solution be achieved as promptly as possible.
It is with great interest we are following the course of normalizing your relations with neighboring Turkey. It is actually in normalizing relations, in opening up borders that the credibility of Turkish politics is gauged. It is inadmissible for a country aspiring to join the European Union to close its borders and create conditions of exclusion and financial asphyxiation. Intentions should become tangible actions instead.
The Cypriot issue has not ceased to be an invasion and occupation issue. It is a substantial impediment to EU-Turkish relations. A solution to the Cypriot issue must be viable and functional as well as implement Security Council resolutions. It should be fully aligned with the community acquis, respectful of human rights and provide for the retreat of all foreign troops from Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus is a paragon of stability for the wider area. And it can apparently turn into a major player in the energy sector regarding developments in the overall region. By declaring its own Exclusive Economic Zone and making delineation agreements with its neighboring countries, Cyprus is exercising its rights and consolidating its geopolitical position.
I am sure our respective countries will capitalize on today’s meeting and its exceptional ambiance to further deepen and strengthen our bilateral cooperation.
Let us drink to that and so I raise my glass and toast to your health in welcoming you, your wife and your delegation to Athens while expressing my wishes for prosperity and progress to the friendly people of Armenia.-