Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan in St Petersburg
22 december 2010
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Very good to see you, Mr Sargsyan. Russia and Armenia benefit from a special relationship that extends to many areas, both in politics and military cooperation. We note that our Armenian friends are ready to expand cooperation in this area. The same can be said about the military base.
Today's meeting is certainly, as has become traditional, devoted to pressing issues of economic cooperation. Sadly, during the crisis, as was the case in most instances, the trade between our two countries fell about 20%. However, trade is now recovering: it has grown 16% in nine months.
Last year, when we all were suffering from the crisis, Russia supported Armenia. On your request we drew up and issued 500 million dollars in a soft loan with a maturity of 15 years. Despite a certain overall decrease, this allowed us to shore up both our bilateral trade and Russia's investment in the Armenian economy, which amounts to between 2.8 billion to 3 billion.
Not a single Russian company has withdrawn from Armenia's economy. This goes for Gazprom, INTER RAO UES, JSFC Sistema, VTB Bank and many other companies. In total, several thousand companies comprising Russian capital are operating in Armenia. We hope that, confident that they have the support of both yourself and the president of Armenia, our businesses will continue to feel comfortable – or at least no less so than your other partners. We hope that our joint efforts will enable us to advance and expand our horizons.
Tigran Sargsyan: Thank you very much, Mr Putin. First of all, I would like to thank you for making time so close to the New Year to discuss strategic projects in Armenia that, we feel, could be mutually beneficial.
Before taking strategic decisions, it is vital we discuss these projects with our strategic partners, to ensure that both the course and implementation phases for all these projects are correct.
As we approach the New Year, it will be, no doubt, a positive indicator that we have got the budget implementation programme for 2011 up and running. And overall we will have a clear financial picture of what projects to start work on.
Creating a favourable environment for Russian companies operating in Armenia is one of our priority goals. We are currently developing several projects with this goal in view. In particular, we want to create a free trade area around the MAZ plant. We prepared a draft law and it was subsequently approved by our colleagues. I hope this project will be discussed in parliament in the first quarter of next year.
This will be a unique experience for us, as Armenia has never before implemented such a project. We hope that it will create a seedbed for Russian business in Armenia. We have other ideas to discuss with you, of course. I hope that in 2011 we will be able to give economic relations between our two countries renewed impetus.