Lilia Gumerova: Russia is leading partner of Armenia
Russia is committed to a dialogue, cooperation and settlement of the most difficult problems in relations with the South Caucasus countries, including Armenia, the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education and Culture, a representative of the executive body of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Lilia Gumerova, said to Vestnik Kavkaza.
Ahead of the 98th anniversary of the proclamation of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia (May 26 is Georgia's independence day, May 28 is Azerbaijani Republic Day, May 28 is Armenian Republic Day) Vestnik Kavkaza is publishing a series of interviews with Russian politicians, economists and cultural figures about links between Russia and these countries.
Today, on the eve of one of the main Armenian national holidays, we'd like to draw your attention to the second part of interview with Lilia Gumerova, dedicated to relations between Russia and Armenia.
First of all, the senator pointed to the diverse nature of contacts between the two countries at the highest level. "I would like to especially note the talks between the presidents of our countries on topical issues on the bilateral agenda, which took place in September 2015 and in March 2016. We saw mutual intent to strengthen relations in all areas. In addition, during the talks between the heads of the Russian and Armenian governments topical issues of cooperation in economic and investment fields were discussed and resulted in the signing of a solid package of documents of intergovernmental, interdepartmental and interregional nature, in particular, on the peaceful use of outer space, cooperation in the development of housing and communal services, as well as environmental protection. In December 2015 the defense ministers signed an agreement to establish a joint regional air defense system during the meeting," she said.
Russia is a leading economic partner of Armenia, Lilia Gumerova stressed. "The volume of our trade turnover in 2015 exceeded $1 billion and we hope that together we can overcome a recession seen at the end of the year. In April, during Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Yerevan, it was agreed to reduce prices for Russian natural gas supplied to consumers in Armenia. At the moment, the projects are being implemented to extend operation of the Armenian nuclear power plant, an agreement to provide a credit and allocate a certain amount as a grant to Armenia was signed," the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education and Culture said.
The two countries are linked by contacts in education and culture. "The number of state scholarships for Armenian students in Russian universities has been increasing steadily through the years: 210 people in 2014, 223 people in 2015. In addition, the program of cooperation between the Russian and Armenian ministries of Culture was signed in the framework of the 4th St. Petersburg Cultural Forum, and the Armenian branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University has been operating in the republic since 2015," she listed.
Of course, Russia and Armenia are actively working together at the parliamentary level. "In April 2016, the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security held a joint meeting with the Commission of Republic’s National Assembly on Defense and National Security in Armenia. The delegation of the Federation Council, headed by the Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building participated in the monitoring of the referendum on amendments to the Armenian Constitution in December 2015," the senator noted.
Russia considers Armenia to be a key partner in the CIS. "Despite difficult political moments, we see the need to continue work on the Eurasian integration processes and hope that Yerevan will participate in establishing working contacts in this area," Liliia Gumerova said.
According to her, Moscow hopes that the interests of the Russian-Armenian allied relations will be taken into account when concluding any agreements with the EU. "We know that a memorandum on negotiations of a new comprehensive framework agreement between Armenia and the EU was signed in Brussels in December 2015 and the first round of negotiations was held in February. Interactions between Russia and Armenia in the Council of Europe is well coordinated and we are committed to further strengthening of cooperation in the organization," the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education and Culture said.
The senator also noted Russia's concern over the escalation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh in April. "The Russian side has made every possible effort to restore the ceasefire. The agreement between the heads of the General Staffs of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia to that effect was reached in Moscow," Lilia Gumerova said.
"It is important to resume direct contacts between the sides and continue negotiations towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Russia stands firmly on the position that there is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Russia stands in favor of a constructive dialogue and finding ways for a peaceful settlement," the senator concluded.
Earlier, speaking of the South Caucasus as a whole, she emphasized the importance of human connections that bring together the region and Russia. "No matter what part of the Caucasus we visit [we find these connections] in families, a centuries-old friendship, joint projects in various spheres of public life and political activity. The most important thing is to preserve peace and stability in the Caucasus, and Russia is that power, which is able to be a guarantor of the dialogue, draw attention to it and encourage the peace talks. Only a guarantee of peace can ensure further cooperation between our countries for the sake of prosperity, peaceful and happy life for millions of citizens," Lilia Gumerova stressed.