The President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan was received today in the Magistral Villa by the Lieutenant of the Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre. The official visit follows the state one that the Sovereign Order of Malta made in 2016 to Armenia, testifying to their ancient historical bonds, excellent relations and the common desire to extend cooperation in the medical and humanitarian sector.
During today’s visit, the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Republic of Armenia – who are celebrating 20 years of diplomatic relations this year – in fact signed a 10-year cooperation agreement, with the objective of expanding the Order of Malta’s health and social activities in the country. These include the Svartnotz orphanage that cares for over a hundred children, the health centre in Dilijan for the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis, the educational establishment for children with hearing problems, and the support our Order gives to the hospital in Etchmiadzin.
The present commitment matches that of the past when our volunteers were mobilized to assist Armenian refugees during World War I and, some decades later in 1988, to help survivors of the earthquake that caused 25,000 casualties. On that occasion the Order sent medical and rescue teams and managed the transport abroad of many injured children in need of delicate surgery.
“The link between Armenia, the oldest Christian nation, and the Order of Malta, one of the most ancient Catholic religious orders, goes beyond humanitarian and social aspects – albeit always a priority – to embrace our ancient traditions such as the commitment to protect the Christian minority in the Middle East,” the Lieutenant of the Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, stated.
“In this respect I recall the Order’s participation in the 2015 commemoration in Yerevan for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide and, a few days earlier, in the celebrations during which His Holiness Pope Francis spoke for the first time of the massacre of the Armenians as the first genocide of the 20th century”, the Lieutenant added.
“Today’s visit represents the mutual desire to keep the level of dialogue very high. The humanitarian commitment of the Order is worthy of praise” said president Serzh Sargsyan. “Through the promotion of our shared values we can protect the world from xenophobia sentiments”.
The links between Armenia and the Order of Malta have roots originating in the 12th century, precisely in 1183 when the Armenian authorities granted landholdings to the then Grand Master Fra’ Roger des Moulins to develop hospitaller activities.