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Armenian President Urges Closer Ties With Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian inspect a military honor guard in Berlin on June 22.
YEREVAN -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has heaped praise on Germany and called for the expansion of bilateral relations after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel during an official visit to Berlin, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The two leaders said their June 22 talks touched on a broad range of issues that include bilateral relations, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and Armenia's stalled rapprochement with Turkey. Merkel said they also discussed issues related to Armenia's progress on the path of democratization.

"Armenia's desire to expand relations with Germany in both bilateral and multilateral formats stems from Germany's balanced policy towards our region and its growing interest in our region," Sarkisian told a joint news conference.

Sarkisian said closer ties with Germany are also "an important component" of his administration's efforts to deepen Armenia's integration into the European Union.

The two leaders also discussed ways of boosting commercial ties between their countries.

"We should work on facilitating conditions for visa requirements, based on the ongoing talks with the European Commission," Merkel said. "We also just agreed that we should develop a common double-taxation agreement because the present one is outdated. I think this would give German-Armenian relations a push in the economic field. I think there is still potential."

Germany is already one of Armenia's leading trading partners and its leading export market in the EU.

Germany has also been Armenia's second-largest foreign donor after the United States, allocating 220 million euros ($275 million) in loans and grants between 1995 and 2009.

Sarkisian thanked Berlin for the aid, saying it has been "essential" for the success of economic reforms carried out by successive Armenian governments.

The unresolved Karabakh conflict was also on the agenda, with Merkel reaffirming her government's support for the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiating process mediated by the United States, Russia, and France. She offered Germany's assistance in the peace efforts.