YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sarkisian praised Armenia’s “strong partnership” with the United States on Tuesday when he congratulated his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on America’s Independence Day.
“Today we can unmistakably state that in the past quarter of a century, together we have succeeded in building a close and strong partnership between our nations anchored in mutual respect and trust,” Sarkisian said in a congratulatory message to Trump.
He expressed hope that the two countries will “enrich the agenda of Armenian-American relations with new mutually beneficial initiatives and projects.” He again thanked the U.S. for its economic assistance provided to Armenia since the early 1990s and praised Washington’s role in international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Throughout his nine-year rule, Sarkisian has sought closer ties with the United States, including in the area of defense, while maintaining Armenia’s political and military alliance with Russia. He has repeatedly stated in recent years that U.S.-Armenian relations are now closer than ever before. He expressed confidence in November that they will “continue to develop dynamically” during Trump’s presidency.
The Armenian leader on Tuesday also visited the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan and met U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills on the occasion. The two men planted an apricot tree in the sprawling embassy compound symbolizing the U.S. independence anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-Armenian diplomatic ties.
“We hope our relationship will grow even stronger, and we are especially keen to further deepen our trade and investment ties,” Sarkisian’s press office quoted Mills as saying.
On Friday, the U.S. mission hosted an annual Independence Day reception attended by hundreds of Armenian dignitaries, including Prime Minister Karen Karapetian and several members of his cabinet. In a speech delivered at the event, Karapetian described Yerevan’s relationship with Washington as “very good, businesslike, honest and sincere.” “I am very happy with it and ready to continue it,” he said.
Karapetian also said he hopes the two governments will work together to attract more U.S. investments in the Armenian economy.
Mills spoke in February of “considerable progress” in bilateral commercial ties, pointing to multimillion-dollar U.S. investments in Armenia’s energy and mining sectors. Those include a $250 million acquisition of Armenia’s largest hydroelectric complex. Another private company headquartered in the U.S. state of Colorado began building last year a gold mine that will significantly increase Armenian exports of gold.
Mills said last month that the South Caucasus state can attract billions of dollars in investments from U.S. energy companies if it liberalizes its energy sector.
According to Armenian government data, Armenia’s trade with the U.S. rose by over 32 percent to $60 million in the first five months of this year. The figure is equivalent to around 3 percent of Armenia’s overall foreign trade in that period.