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Elections in Armenia showed people’s trust in democracy: ARMENPRESS Exclusive with Lithuanian Prime Minister

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Elections in Armenia showed people’s trust in democracy: ARMENPRESS Exclusive with Lithuanian Prime Minister

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte underscores that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan received a very strong level of trust from the Armenian people at the June 20 parliamentary election. PM Simonyte says the Armenian people expressed trust in democratic processes and said yes to the “mandate for a better life”. The Lithuanian Prime Minister highlighted the fact that the elections in Armenia were recognized as fair and transparent.

PM Ingrida Simonyte was interviewed by ARMENPRESS Director Aram Ananyan on the prospects of developing the Armenian-Lithuanian relations in various sectors, cooperation in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement.

Aram Ananyan: Madam Prime Minister, thank you very much for your time. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Armenian-Lithuanian diplomatic relations. It is meaningful that Lithuania is the first country to have recognized the independence of the Republic of Armenia. If we were to sum up, what kind of relations do we have today and most importantly in what direction are we moving forward?

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte: Well, I think that basically we are on the same road. We have some modalities, but we are on the same road because we are countries that believe in fundamental democratic values, it is important for people to have right to choose, to decide their fate. It is important for them to know what is happening, so the freedom of press, private property, independent courts and all the other fundamental values are the foundation of what we call liberal democracy.

And I think that we are both on the same road, of course for many reasons, geographical as well. We are in a pool of other countries that formerly joined the European Union by those values. But I think the partnership with other countries that are like-minded is very important and it's good that we had the chance to discuss with Prime Minister Pashinyan what we can do as a people who see those fundamental values as crucial for them prosperity of our nations, how we can share our experiences, how we can share our stories, our successes, and sometimes maybe mistakes as well.

Aram Ananyan: Madam Prime Minister, you addressed important issues. We always say that there is a big potential for boosting economic ties: In which sectors do you see opportunities for developing this cooperation?

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte: Well, I think it's not only about trade. I think it's about cooperation on also other levels, because we can also speak about, cooperation, for example, of our universities and science as well. And the agreement that was signed by ministries of health, sort of building the basis for cooperation in this area, which appeared to be very important because of COVID. So I think that in terms of economic ties first, and the easiest thing will be speak about tourism, because we are somewhere on the way of opening a new direct flight, which will connect the people. So this is a, niece that I think can be elaborated and can be widely used.

Now, in terms of economic relations between businesses, once you have a flight option and once you have a political backing, I think business is smart enough to find their own opportunities and in what is available in one market and the other. So I know that there is a big ambition in Armenia in digital transformation. And we have quite a number of companies that operate also on the biggest scale. And we have a number of solutions that are already applicable here or in another country. So this might be of interest for example, for Armenian institutions to use this experience or to use the products that are developed or to use the systems that are operational here or in other countries, also green transition, alternative energy. This is just the dimension of where I see that this synergy, that of European policy or policy of European union, but also policy lines of Armenian government are very much, sort of, coinciding. So, I think there is a big opportunity for synergies.

Aram Ananyan: Lithuania assisted Armenia in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Armenian and Lithuanian healthcare ministries signed an agreement on cooperation. Could you tell us more about future cooperation in this sector?

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte: We can be of use to Armenian institutions in term of reforms in health care, in health insurance, as well as in organizing of healthcare. We are not a country without problems. We still have a couple of things to do ourselves. So, it's good that you can also progress and maybe share your experience with the others. And during COVID, there were exchange of expertise or medical personnel as well as things that we needed for COVID tests or vaccines for the management of situation. But these were rather in the framework of, well, if we can share them, we share, and we were sharing not only with Armenia, but also with other countries. But I think that it is important because you have to use your options wisely. And if we, being in the European union, being lucky to receive vaccines one of the first globally, so if we see that it is also doable, you know, sharing with the others then, and it's only the way countries should pursue, but this was rather a situation that was created by COVID. But since this, exchange of experience and this cooperation proved to be quite good and quite fruitful.

Aram Ananyan: As you know, 2020 was a dramatic year for Armenia. The war in Nagorno Karabakh led to a number of issues, including humanitarian ones. Lithuania was one of the first to respond. What is your position on the conflict settlement and will you continue the humanitarian assistance programs?

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte: A stance that we take, I guess, for many years, that if you see people suffering somewhere and you can help somehow in that, in a reasonable way, then you should do this. And we as a country that is based on Christian values is exercising this in many aspects being that a natural disaster somewhere or being that a conflict in Karabakh.

And I'm really sorry. And I extend my condolences to those who died in this conflict, and any loss of human life is a huge loss. So it is very sad that still we have situations like that, but of course there is no other way, as just try to regulate this. And of course the preferable option is that it would be regulated in a political manner, by the framework of Minsk group chairmanship. And it's good to hear that are at least some steps towards this direction.

Of course it is not easy. It never is easy because while people have dissenting opinions on who's right, and who's wrong and what should be done. But I think that with the help of also European union institutions and participation of European union and experience in regulating conflicts in other places, with a sincere heart, and I see sincere will to come to a peaceful situation. , I hope we will achieve something. I mean, this first Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also globally, because it's important for Europe and it's important for the globe because the less conflicts we have then the easier it is for people to come to their daily lives, and, create their future and their prosperity.

Aram Ananyan: Lithuania is one of the unique pioneers of developing the EU-Armenia relations. Lithuania was first to ratify the Armenia-EU CEPA and is in favor of liberalization of the visa regime. At what pace are we moving forward in this direction?

Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte: Well, you know, in, European union, things are not necessarily moving fast, although sometimes Europea...

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