BRUSSELS (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian emphasized the “privileged” character of Armenia’s relationship with France when he met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels late on Wednesday.
Joined by their foreign ministers, the two men held talks on the sidelines of a NATO summit in the Belgian capital. Pashinian was due to attend a session of the summit focused on the ongoing NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. The multinational military contingent deployed there includes 130 or so Armenian soldiers.
Macron and Pashinian exchanged warm greetings in English at the start of the meeting held at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. The French president could be heard saying in front of TV cameras that he is “very happy to see” the Armenian premier.
An Armenian government statement cited Pashinian as saying that “Armenia highly appreciates its privileged relations with France based on traditional friendship and mutual respect of the two peoples.”
For his part, Macron was reported to say that France is ready to deepen economic and political ties with Armenia. He also said he looks forward to paying a state visit to Yerevan in October.
The visit will be timed to coincide with a summit of Francophonie, a grouping of over 70 mainly French-speaking nations, which will be held in the Armenian capital.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Yerevan in late May to discuss with Armenia’s new government preparations for the summit. Le Drian stressed the fact that he is the first high-level foreign official to arrive in the South Caucasus state since a popular uprising that swept Pashinian to power earlier in May.
Macron was likewise the first Western leader to meet Pashinian during the latter’s first-ever trip to Europe in his current capacity.
According to the government statement, the two leaders also discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with Pashinian praising international efforts to resolve it which have long been spearheaded by the United States, Russia and France. Pashinian also warned against Azerbaijani attempts to solve the conflict militarily. No other details were reported.