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Press Statement by External Affairs Minister at the Joint Press Conference with H.E. Mr. Ararat Mirzoyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia (October 13, 2021)

October 13, 2021

Thank you very much,
Excellency, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan,
Friends from media,
Good Morning to all of you,

I am really very happy to visit this beautiful city of Yerevan. It is the first ever visit by an External Affairs Minister of India, and I am very confident that this is the beginning of a new phase of cooperation between India and Armenia.

2. While India was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Armenia and establish diplomatic ties, relations between the two countries actually go back several centuries. There is recorded history of presence of Armenian diaspora in India from the medieval times and we boast of a rich Armenian heritage with Churches, Cemeteries and educational institutions. In fact, a stamp was issued by Armenian Post in the early 1990s of a Church in Chennai, then Madras, which is where my family comes from, which is firmly etched in my memory. The Armenian heritage has been preserved with great care and respect for Armenian traditions. The contribution of Armenian community to India’s progress has been noteworthy.

3. We recognize that Armenia has gone through a very difficult phase last year. So let me take the opportunity to convey my sincere condolences on behalf of the Government and people of India to the Armenian people especially those who lost their near and dear ones.

4. Today and yesterday, I had a very fruitful meeting with my counterpart, Foreign Minister. We did a comprehensive review of our bilateral relations, we discussed regional and multilateral issues and most importantly agreed on the roadmap for future course of cooperation and exchanges at various levels.

5. The Foreign Minister and I are agreeing in our view that while our bilateral relations have expanded in political and cultural fields, there is clearly scope for further strengthening our economic and commercial cooperation, in particular tourism, hospitality, infrastructure and investment. Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU) and we are currently negotiating a Trade Agreement with EaEU and I am sure that it will boost our trade relations.

6. We agreed to encourage the business community, the chambers and trade bodies on both sides to engage more intensively with each other and the Government will play the role of a facilitator in that process. An Indian business delegation had visited Armenia last month to participate in the 20th edition of Armenia Expo. This was the first business delegation to Armenia after the COVID pandemic and I am confident that there will be more frequent visits which will give further impetus to bilateral trade and commerce.

7. The lack of direct connectivity, both land connectivity and air connectivity, between our two countries is a hindrance for enhanced people-to-people contacts and economic-commercial exchanges. Both India and Armenia are members of the International North South Transport Corridor, which has the potential to bridge the connectivity barrier. Minister Mirzoyan and I discussed the interest which Armenia has shown in utilization of Chabahar port in Iran which is being developed by India. We have also proposed that Chabahar port be included in the INSTC framework. We definitely like to welcome the use of Chabahar port and any other initiative that could increase connectivity between our two countries. We also discussed the possibilities of direct flights between our two countries under our Air Services agreement.

8. Regarding the regional security situation in light of the disturbances in the Caucasus region since last year. our position has been very consistent. Since the beginning of the hostilities, we have called for peaceful resolution of the conflict through diplomatic means. We have expressed support for resolution of the dispute under the OSCE Minsk Group. We have supported the trilateral ceasefire of 9-10 November 2020. India has always been in favour of peace and stability in this region.

9. One important bridge between India and Armenia today is the presence of a large number of Indian students (approx 3000) who are pursuing medical education in Armenia. We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Government of Armenia and the people of Armenia for the welfare of the Indian community, in particular, the students during the pandemic and for facilitating their return under the Vande Bharat Mission.

10. We deeply admire the attachment of the Armenians for India and its culture. I am happy to see that Armenia has given a place to the Father of our Nation Mahatma Gandhi in the centre of Yerevan at a very beautiful park in the form of a statue which reminds us of our common traditions of respect for tolerance and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi – Truth and Non-violence. I will be paying my respects to our Father of Nation by visiting the statue later today.

11. Our cooperation in the UN and the multilateral forums has been extremely good. We appreciate Armenia’s support for our candidature for non-permanent Membership of UNSC for the tenure 2021-22 and also for our bid for permanent membership of the UNSC. Our cooperation in multi-lateral forums reflect the strength of our relationship. We are very grateful to Armenia for supporting our candidatures for other multilateral forums.

12. I look forward to call on the Prime Minister of Armenia H.E. Mr. Nikol Pashinyan and the President of the National Assembly of the Armenia H. E. Mr. Alen Simonyan later in the day.

13. This year is an important year in the calendar of both our countries. While Armenia is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence, we are celebrating 75 years of our Independence. Next year will be another milestone when we will mark the 30th anniversary of establishment of our diplomatic relations.

14. I am very hopeful that my visit today has enabled us to further strengthen our cooperation in various fields. We stand ready to support Armenia in the spirit of our close and friendly relations.

15. I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks and gratitude to esteemed colleague Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and the Government of Armenia for the generous hospitality extended to me and my delegation and you have really made our visit to Armenia very special. I also extend an invitation to him to visit India at a mutual convenient time.

Thank you very much.

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