Thank you for that warm welcome. Minister Sargsyan, distinguished guests, it is an honor to join you here today to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Zar Training Area Renovation Project.
This project is just the latest example of the close and enduring friendship between Armenia and the United States, including – and especially – our strong military ties and cooperation.
This year, we are celebrating 25 years of U.S.-Armenian diplomatic relations. We were the first country to establish an embassy in the newly independent Republic of Armenia – that was on February 3, 1992 – and our friendship has only become stronger over time. We are proud that the foundations of our relationship are multi-faceted and include, for example, our humanitarian and development assistance over the years; our increasingly strong bilateral trade ties; and our joint efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and good governance. But I would like to emphasize that one of the core cornerstones of our friendship is our military cooperation and the bonds of trust that we have built between our defense institutions, and today we have gathered to celebrate and honor that relationship.
I think it is fitting that the main beneficiary of this renovation project is the Armenian Peacekeeping Brigade, which has acquitted itself so honorably in many dangerous places – Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Lebanon. Armenia should be proud of its Peacekeeping Brigade and the nation’s contributions to international peacekeeping operations. Through various programs and initiatives – including joint training and exercises, English language classes, and now this improved training facility – the United States has proudly partnered with the Armenian Ministry of Defense to enhance the Brigade’s training readiness and capabilities, ensuring optimal effectiveness during their deployments.
I would like to thank all those whose dedication and efforts made this renovation project a reality. First and foremost, I would like to thank the Ministry of Defense for the strong and fruitful relationship we enjoy, and for the opportunity to partner on this project. I would also like to thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the CESCO Construction Company, as well as the U.S. European Command and our own Office of Defense Cooperation for generously providing the funding from the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative program that has made this project possible.
I am very proud of the robust partnership between our two great countries, and I look forward to many more years of fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Thank you again.