President Robert Kocharian
Press Conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Yerevan, Armenia
September 15, 2001

ROBERT KOCHARIAN: Dear friends, we have just finished our meeting with Vladimir Vladimirovich and the meeting between our delegations, and we have signed some bilateral agreements. The Russian President’s visit continues. He has a very busy schedule today. There is also going to be a meeting between representatives of business communities of our countries, a meeting with students and visits to important cultural venues of Yerevan.

I would like to express my gratitude to Vladimir Vladimirovich for the mutual understanding, for the climate that was created during our discussion of the whole range of Armenian-Russian relations. I would like to thank members of the Russian delegation for active participation in the preparation of this visit; particularly, I would like to recognize the work of the Intergovernmental Committee, which made the discussion of all issues very concrete and productive. Among the documents we have signed, I would like to single out particularly the long-term economic cooperation agreement until 2010 and the agreement on mutual protection of capital investments. These agreements complement the already existing regulatory and legal framework, whereas the long-term economic cooperation agreement makes the cooperation between economic entities of our countries more predictable and understandable in terms of directions that both parties consider to be priorities.

Of course, we also discussed issues of regional nature, the problem of international terrorism and a whole range of other issues. In fact, we went through the entire range of Armenian-Russian relations. We discussed issues of military-technical cooperation. I was very pleased to see the Governors of Russia’s southern regions included in the Russian delegation. I think we have very serious possibilities for productive cooperation on that level. I would like to thank the Russian President for the fact that Russia reacted to our last year’s drought and sent five thousand tons of wheat to Armenia that have already started to come in. Thank you very much for this humanitarian act, for this humanitarian gesture. Also, thank you for the reached agreement; I can already say with confidence that the visit has been very important, extremely important for the development of Armenian-Russian relations. It is my pleasure now to give the floor to President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you very much. Dear ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to thank the Armenian President and the entire Armenian leadership for the invitation to visit Yerevan. We have completed an important phase of our work in the capital of Armenia. We conducted negotiations on the highest level. One can say that, having signed a declaration on allied cooperation between the Russian Federation and Armenia, in September 2000, in Moscow, we ensured significant progress in all areas of our cooperation. The main purpose of today’s visit is to discuss trade and economic issues. We can make maximum use of Russia’s and Armenia’s potential in this area. This is a favorable time for developing the area of trade and economy: as you know, there has been a certain revitalization of economic situation, certain improvement of economic situation in Russia. Last year – 8 percent economic growth. A significant growth this year as well; we can already be certain that the growth will be higher than projected, significantly higher than projected.... Favorable conditions for the development of trade and economic ties. Together with the President of the Republic of Armenia Robert Sedrakovich Kocharian, we reached concrete agreements. Preconditions for the establishment of Russian-Armenian enterprises in key areas of Armenian economy will be created in the near future under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Committee on economic cooperation. We expect that new jobs, decently paid jobs will be created and that these enterprises will work for the benefit of Armenian as well as Russian economies. With Robert Sedrakovich, we signed a long-term economic cooperation agreement until 2010, as a main document. It will become a sound legal basis for increasing our joint business activities. Today, during our extended negotiations, the Armenian President pointed out that the legal framework between the two countries seemed to be rather solid; however, the agreement on protection of investments that we signed today, which is one of the cornerstones (as they say these days) of the legal framework of cooperation had still not been signed. Today, we filled in that blank.
The comparison of Russia’s and Armenia’s positions on main issues of international politics has demonstrated the communality of our views, including our views on the key aspects of strategic stability in the world. Foreign political cooperation between Armenia and Russia takes places on the highest level and in the most efficient fashion, both in the UN and in the OSCE.

The negotiations have shown that Moscow and Yerevan aim at the further strengthening of the CIS. We pay attention to the need of keeping up and developing our cooperation within the framework of the Collective Security Agreement. I would like to express my gratitude to Robert Sedrakovich Kocharian for his activities as Chairman of the Collective Security Agreement to make the Agreement more efficient.

Obviously, I couldn’t just leave out what had happened in the United States of America on September 11. These tragic events made us re-evaluate the existing collective security system. Terrorism has become the main threat of the new century. That is why we will continue to strengthen the CIS Anti-Terrorism Center as a tool for countering this evil. We also had a detailed discussion of the Caucasus problems. We regard the Caucasus Four as a good model for constructing a regional system of security and cooperation in the Caucaus.

It is clear that we couldn’t ignore the Karabakh problem as well. I would like to reiterate: Russia is prepared to play a positive role in the policy of conflict resolution, which is currently conducted by the President of Armenia and the President of Azerbaijan. Russia regards Armenia as a reliable partner. The policy of strengthening and improving the whole range of Russian-Armenian cooperation is a principle choice of not only the Russian leadership, but also of the people of the Russian Federation. Thank you for your attention.

QUESTION: I have a question for both Presidents regarding the current situation in the world. Do you think new means are necessary for combating international terrorism, and what is your assessment of the current situation?

PUTIN: The situation in the world changed not because of the terrorist acts. It changed a long time ago. But unfortunately we wouldn’t notice it. The tragic events that took place in the United States only confirmed these changes. Of course, terrorism has become one of the main threats of the modern world, and we can’t afford not to react to it. As for the parameters of the new security systems, this is something that will need to be discussed and worked out. I am scheduled to meet with the President of the United States very soon, in Shanghai; later this year I am going to pay a visit to the United States; this month, I have a meeting with the EU leadership and in the NATO headquarters in Brussels. We are going to discuss this problem in all these meetings. However, I would like to warn against pinning accusations, declaring some people extremists and blaming them for what happened. I think that the accusations that can be heard at times, and the statements that can be heard at times that someone overlooked the strike, someone didn’t work well, overlooked it, I think these statements are unfair. Simply, the old security system was not built to prevent threats of that nature. We have to make conclusions based on what happened and work out that system. I am confident everyone is interested in this. At least, Russia is.

KOCHARIAN: I would add the following. By the way, the Russian President had expressed himself clearly on this issue; and even before what happened in the United States, we had discussed that topic, as well as the threat of terrorism, within the framework of the Collective Security Agreement. Taking into consideration what happened, and the fact that the statements made by the leaders of major countries are in tune with each other, I think the conceptual approach to the fight against international terrorism will, perhaps, be developed in the near future. The most important thing is that the events in the United States demonstrated that no one is safe, no country is safe from this sort of attacks. I think what we need here is consolidated efforts by all the countries.

QUESTION: In connection with the current situation, is it possible that Armenia and Russia would participate in military operations against international terrorism?

PUTIN: Of course, we should not liken ourselves to the bandits that strike from behind. We have to weigh our decisions and take them on the basis of real facts, reliable facts that we have. I am absolutely convinced that the evil should be punished. I have no doubts about that. As for Armenia’s and Russia’s direct participation in any actions against terrorism, I have already said that we think we can solve such issues on the regional level within the framework of the recently established CIS Anti-Terrorism Center.

QUESTION: My question is for the Russian President. Vladimir Vladimirovich, what additional efforts can Russia make in the interests of the Karabakh problem resolution?

PUTIN: This is a problem we have inherited from the past. It was not us who created that problem. First, it concerns the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and it is these people and the leaders of these countries that need to find a solution to this very difficult problem. Russia would support any solution acceptable to both countries and is prepared to play a role of a guarantor.

QUESTION: There has been a lot of talk about giving Russia some enterprises or part of their shares as a way of settling Armenia’s debt to Russia. Have you reached an agreement on this issue? If so, has the list of enterprises been finalized? This question is for both Presidents.

KOCHARIAN: This subject was first voiced last year, during my official visit to the Russian Federation. This subject was worked on, but unfortunately it did not come to a conclusion. But the idea is quite clear: there is a debt, there is a desire for economic cooperation, for making this cooperation more active, and perhaps the shortest and the most effective way of getting there is to put together both the debt and the interest of large Russian businesses towards the Armenian economy and try to solve that problem on a mutually beneficial basis. I think the Intergovernmental Committee’s work allowed us to have a more concrete assessment of the situation, and I am much more optimistic now that this issue will be settled either fully or partially in the near future. We must keep in mind that we are talking about a mutually beneficial deal, and not about solving the problem of one side at the expense of the other. This means that the business, private business that will enter the Armenian economy with this program, has to see its interest, has to see that this deal is in the interests of that business, whereas we have to see that it is in the interests of the Armenian economy. I would repeat that the parameters of this solution are already in sight. I think we will be able to speak more concretely about some positions by the end of the year.

PUTIN: You are probably familiar with the debate in Russia and the CIS countries in the beginning of the 90s and in the mid-90s, when we were deciding the ways of attracting foreign capital in the economy of our countries. Today, thank God, the hysteria about the selling the Motherland has finished. Everyone understands that attraction of foreign capital is an entry into the economy of Europe and the entire civilized world. Robert Sedrakovich Kocharian is a very progressive man; he has an excellent understanding of the laws of development of modern economy. He was the initiator of closer cooperation between the economies of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia. The issue here is not really the debt. The issue is not the debt at all: the issue is to attract the attention of Russian business and the Russian capital into Armenian economy. This is, really, the essence of Kocharian’s proposal. We understand this very well, and we share his position. We think this is right. The issue is to choose the perspective directions. Robert Sedrakovich didn’t say everything. Today, particularly when we were discussing this issue in a private meeting, we talked about concrete enterprises and concrete directions and areas of the economy. I am not prepared to say right now that tomorrow a Russian company will enter one or another of the enterprises with a certain volume of investments, but the negotiations on this issue are very focused on concrete facilities and concrete topics. I hope we can inform you of decisions by the end of this year.

KOCHARIAN: I would like add. You know, there was an opinion in our press that Russia is forcing the solution of this problem on us. Even some international financial institutions were asking whether this is true, whether this deal will be in Armenia’s interests. I would like to state with all certainty that this was our proposal. No one is trying to force us to do anything in this regard. The idea is to attract Russian investments into Armenian economy.