PM Trudeau and PM Nikol Pashinyan of the Republic of Armenia hold a joint media availability
Thank you. Hello, everyone. Thank you, Nikol, for your warm, friendly words. Thank you for being here today. To begin, I would like to… first of all, thank the Armenian people and Prime Minister Pashinyan for the extraordinary welcome here in Armenia. It was wonderful to see you at the NATO summit in July, and at the United Nations General Assembly in September, where we sat near each other, and … had a chance to really grow our friendship.
This week was a great honour for me. It’s something that I greatly appreciate, Nikol. Perhaps you know that since… in the 1980s, I visited Armenia with my father and brothers. It was incredible now to see how these ties between our two countries have continued to grow over the last 30 years. This week, I participated in the Francophonie Summit here in Yerevan, and I congratulate the Prime Minister and his entire team for such a successful event. Earlier this year, Canada hosted the G7 Summit, so I understand all the work that goes into it.
Forums like La Francophonie are an opportunity for us to discuss common challenges and to work together to reach mutual goals. During the meeting, I was pleased to announce two new Canadian initiatives on the African continent. We committed to investing $6.5 million to support the empowerment of Senegalese women, and $18 million to fight gender‑based violence in the Congo. I am certain that, together, the countries of La Francophonie can create a more prosperous future for everyone, and this week we took a big step in the right direction.
Here in Yerevan, I also had an opportunity to visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial. It’s a moving reminder of the tragedy that struck that community. The world has a duty to remember. We said never again, and it’s now time for us to keep that promise. Today, the Prime Minister and I continued the discussion that we began earlier this week. That meeting was a chance for us to discuss our shared values, such as democracy, and strengthen the already strong ties between Canadians and Armenians with respect and friendship. At home, people in Montréal have often talked to me about Armenia. So I am aware of the importance of today’s meeting for the Armenian community in Canada.
Indeed, people are at the heart of the special relationship between our two countries. In Canada, our 60,000 Armenian-Canadian community adds richness to our national tapestry in cities and neighbourhoods right across our country. As Sarkis Assadourian, the first Armenian-Canadian Member of Parliament, said, Canadians of Armenian descent continue to use their talents to build a better Canada. Almost 20 years later, that’s as true as it ever was. This community is a testament to the fact that diversity truly is one of Canada’s great strengths.
Just like Armenians here in Yerevan welcomed Syrian refugees, Armenian‑Canadians opened their arms and hearts to Syrian families who came to Canada fleeing conflict. When we support newcomers, they build success and then give back to their community in turn, helping other new families thrive.
While the ties between the citizens of our two countries are rooted in our shared history, they also represent the foundation of our relationship for years to come. During our meeting, Nikol and I talked about our common future. A future where Armenia and Canada continue to strengthen our relationship. For example, we agreed on the need to make it easier for people to travel between our two countries. Today, the trip between Ottawa and Yerevan takes at least 21 hours and involves at least two layovers and two different airlines. Today, Prime Minister Pashinyan and I considered the possibility of starting discussions on a bilateral air transport agreement. I look forward to working with the Prime Minister to facilitate travel – whether for those visiting their family, for tourists or for businesspeople.
Just as our two countries are tied together by people, we are also united by shared values like democracy. In our meetings, Nikol and I talked about what we can do to support our common commitment to strengthening democratic institutions, the institutions that build a bright future for all our citizens.
That’s why Canada is launching the Arnold Chan Initiative for Democracy. With targeted investments, together we can create a better future where everyone can succeed. This initiative will help Armenian organizations promote the political participation of women and young people and create sustainable communities by educating citizens about environmental challenges.
My friend and colleague, the late Arnold Chan was an outstanding parliamentarian, and it was because he fundamentally believed in people and in serving his community and people. So I can’t think of a better way to honour his memory than within an initiative that embodies his lifelong commitment to ensuring that everyone has a chance to be heard and to succeed. As the chair of the Canada-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group, his work helped lay the foundation for this new investment, so I want to take a moment to recognize Jean Yip, Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt, and his wife, for our late friend.
Thank you, Jean, for being with us today and making the trip here.
It was so important to Arnold to engage with people from the Armenian-Canadian community, whether it was at local events or at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto, I know that’s something you are continuing for him.
Our announcement today carries Arnold’s legacy forward, strengthening the flourishing relationship between Canada and Armenia.
This meeting is just the beginning of our cooperation. Canada recently created an independent Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, the first of its kind in the world, and we would like to work together on this issue with Armenia. Together, we can strengthen the ties between our countries and promote our shared values and priorities. Once again, I have to thank Nikol for welcoming me here in Armenia.
The friendship of which he speaks is one that is shared. The two of us have shared many great conversations on our hopes and dreams, not just for the people we serve but for the world that we are part of, the values upon which we connect, the visions for stronger, deeper democracies anchored on the empowerment of all citizens, and the ability to move forward in creating truly fair, just societies with opportunities for all is something that binds us very closely, and that I know we will continue to have many great conversations on in the months and years to come.
Thank you for being here. Thank you very much my friend.