Huge Potential In Armenia-Qatar Relations: Armenia President

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) irfan bukhari & mohammed osman ali | The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: Expressing his desire to 'launch joint projects with Qatar on high technology', President of the Republic of Armenia, H E Vahagn Khachaturyan has said that Armenian people and businesses can learn and be motivated by Qatar's development.

Talking about existing close ties between Qatar and Armenia in an exclusive interview with The Peninsula, the President of Armenia said:“We have great potential when it comes to relations between Armenia and Qatar. Now we are set to intensify efforts to strengthen these relations, but our diplomatic relations already started in 1997.”

He said that it was his first visit to Qatar.“I have been here for the last three days, and my assessment is that there is great potential for enhancing existing cooperation in different sectors whether it is education, high technology, healthcare, tourism, or culture.”

President of the Republic of Armenia, H E Vahagn Khachaturyan visited Qatar recently to attend Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg. During his stay in Qatar, he had meetings with Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and other top government functionaries.

“We should work and work intensively to expand cooperation in different sectors and we can succeed,” he added.

To a question about Qatar Economic Forum, the President said that it was a great opportunity to meet Qatari friends and people from all over the world.“We explored new ways of cooperation and also it was a good opportunity to introduce Armenia to colleagues gathered here from across the globe.”

Lauding the successful organization of the global forum, he thanked H H the Amir for the invitation and hospitality.“In the next edition of the forum, there will be robust participation from Armenia as we will send more business representatives to interact with representatives of global businesses and policymakers. Much work can be done at the forum on different topics from our representatives.” He said:“Qatari example is a good example for our country to look to learn.”

To another question about the framework of signed agreements between Armenia and Qatar and how they provided a solid base to enhance bilateral cooperation, the President said:“Last year our Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was here in Qatar on a high-level official visit. He met H H the Amir; he met government officials where they signed several agreements and on that framework of agreements we are enhancing the bilateral cooperation.”

He added:“I want to add one more factor which is important for further promotion of cooperation, and it is the fact that the two countries are very close to each other by flights with only a three-hour journey and Qatar Airways is providing high-quality services.”

During the visit of the Prime Minister of Armenia, he said, it was decided that the embassy of Qatar will be opened in Armenia which will further help in the realisation of all the projects that fall within the framework of the signed agreements.

“There is another important factor that is our historic past and good memories from this historic past. We are friendly states which are good for the growth of our future relations.”

On plans to sign new agreements and memoranda of understanding in the near future to expand the base of existing bilateral cooperation, the President of Armenia said:“During my visit, I had a meeting with the Minister of Education. I also had a meeting with the Minister of Communication and IT. We exchanged ideas, we agreed that there are many areas where we can help each other and learn from each other, especially in the IT sector.”

“In the education sector, we discussed ideas for exchange programmes in education. This is my vision for the development of bilateral relations to new heights.”

When asked to comment on the current level of bilateral trade and future potential in bolstering trade ties, he said that the current level of bilateral trade was not enough.“When we see at the numbers, they are low but, in my opinion, the Republic of Armenia can enhance trade with Qatar especially when comes to agricultural products by providing fresh agricultural products of high quality produced in Armenia.”

“During my stay in Qatar, I got to know about the local cuisine, and I think we can supply products which are highly consumed in Qatar.”

According to President Khachaturyan, there existed huge potential for imports of industrial products especially textile products from Armenia.“The textile industry is developing fast in Armenia. There are huge investments from local and foreign investors and the end products' quality is high.”

He further said,“When it comes to transportation of goods, especially by air transportation, it will not make prices too high as compared to other importing countries due to the proximity between the two countries.”

Responding to another question about prospects for Qatari investors in the Armenian market, he said that it was a very important subject.“During my visit, it was the centre of attention to explore ways to use Qatari potential of investments in Armenia.”

Armenia, he noted, is an attractive place for investors due to the country's economic policy, tax policy, security etc.“There are also other factors like weather, knowledge of the language, hospitality culture.”

The President of Armenia said there existed lucrative opportunities for investors from Qatar especially in high technology and real estate sectors as well as in hotel business.

Further highlighting legal safeguards for foreign investments, President Khachaturyan said that the government of Armenia had introduced a number of necessary reforms in relevant laws to facilitate investors and ensure they face no obstacles.“We have an investment agency that works on the principle of 'One Window' and investors can approach the agency which helps them overcome all the issues.”

He added:“We as the government understand that with investments our country can develop and in the last years investments have increased tens of times. We are also developing the country's infrastructure, particularly the road network to facilitate foreign investors. Our north-south road project, stretching 700km, is linking Iran on the one side and Georgia on the other side. Many foreign companies from Iran, France, Spain other countries are taking part in the project.”

President Khachaturyan said that the construction and rehabilitation of other infrastructure projects related to water supply, and water reservoirs were also underway.

On the role of tourism sector in bringing two countries closer to each other, the President of Armenia said that under an agreement with Qatar, there is no visa requirement for Qatari citizens to Armenia.

“Armenia is attracting tourists from all over the world including Qatar and the GCC region. Last year over 1.5 million tourists visited Armenia as tourism is an important sector for us. This is a sector in which have invested a lot including private and state investments.”

He said that the state is supporting the private sector by giving special credits, and subsidies.“One can see the changes happening as a result of these measures are huge.”

He noted that Armenia's cultural and historical heritage is a special attraction for visitors.“Every step in our country has interesting monuments, ancient sites to see for foreign visitors.”

Talking about future prospects of enhancing bilateral ties and priority areas for bolstering the existing cooperation, he said that it was his desire to launch joint projects with Qatar in the high technology sphere.

“For strengthening bilateral relations, we need to have more interactions at government, businessmen and people-to-people levels. This thing will create an environment to achieve desired results of enhancing cooperation between the two countries.”

President Khachaturyan added:“I also ask Armenian people to visit Qatar to see its development, infrastructure which is a good example for us to learn and be motivated from Qatar's model.”

On the Armenian diaspora and its role in national development, the President of Armenia praised Armenians living abroad for enhancing the country's relations with different countries.

“They are playing an important role in enhancing ties with different countries including Qatar and the GCC countries. There is almost no family in Armenia who has no relatives living outside of Armenia. Diaspora's role has been very important in recent years in making investments in the country and they also send remittances which are an important part of our economy.”


The Peninsula

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