An international conference, "Armenians of the world at the turn of the century and topical problems of international relations", has opened today in Moscow. In his address to the conference, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan noted that the forum's objective was to develop mutual understanding and cooperation between Armenia and the diaspora as well as between the diasporas in different countries. Robert Kocharyan thanked the Russian Federation leadership for support in holding this conference and expressed hopes that it would add up to strategic partnership between Armenia and Russia, between the Armenian and Russian people. Catholicos of All Armenians Gagerin II conveyed his blessing and greetings to the participants in the conference. Pointing to the fact that the conference is being staged in Moscow with its most populous Armenian community, he said that the Armenians have for centuries treated Russia as their second motherland and contributed a lot to the glory of the Russian state, to the development of its science and culture. The Catholicos was confident that the conferees would succeed in working out most effective approaches to challenges facing the Armenian people. The two-day conference sponsored by the Union of the Armenians of Russia is attended by 300 envoys from 48 countries. Among the participants are the Russian president's staff chief Alexander Voloshin, Russia's Minister for Science, Industry and Technology Ilya Klebanov, Secretary of the Union of Russia and Byelorussia Pavel Borodin, Armenian government officials and Armenia's ambassador to Russia, Armen Smbatyan.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969