YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sarkisian has described Fidel Castro as a “brave and noble” man who has shaped the modern history of Cuba, in a condolence letter sent to the Cuban revolutionary leader’s brother and successor Raul.
Castro died at the age of 90 on November 25.
“The role and significance of Fidel Castro in the modern history of Cuba is indeed hard to overestimate,” read the latter publicized by Sarkisian’s office on Saturday.
“This is a great loss for the people of Cuba who have sincerely loved and respected him,” he said of Castro’s death. “Having remained faithful to his ideas and principles until the end and maintained a brave and noble stance characteristic of him, Fidel Castro will continue to inspire and guide the new generations of Cubans.”
The Armenian leader echoed tributes paid to Castro by the presidents of Russia, China and other nations that have for decades maintained close relations with Cuba.
Armenia has also sought a good rapport with Cuba despite minuscule trade between the two geographically distant countries. Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian visited Havana in January 2014, meeting with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez Parilla as well as Cuba’s deputy prime minister and minister for foreign trade.
“During the meeting the Ministers reaffirmed their countries’ intention to take active steps to enhance, expand and deepen bilateral relations based on a historically formed reciprocal respect and sympathy,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry reported at the time.
“Minister Rodriguez pointed out that Cuba highly appreciates Armenian specialists’ contribution to the development of Cuba,” it said.
Hundreds of Soviet Armenian engineers, academics and other specialists worked in Cuba in the 1970s and 1980s as part of large-scale assistance provided by the Soviet Union to the country.
Nalbandian’s predecessor, Vartan Oskanian, visited Cuba in 2002. The then Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque paid a visit to Armenia the following year, announcing “a new stage” in the Cuban-Armenian relationship.