Text of report by Armenian news agency Mediamax
Yerevan, 25 September: The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, said today at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport that “he has waited for a long time to visit Armenia”.
A Mediamax correspondent reports that the first words of his welcoming speech – “God Bless Armenia”, John Paul II said in the Armenian language. The pontiff said that he was addressing not only Armenians living on the territory of Armenia, but “the millions of Armenians living throughout the whole world”, who, in his words, remain true to their traditions and national consciousness.
John Paul II said that the twentieth century had brought many sufferings to the Armenian people. He spoke in favour of establishing peace in the region, stressing that this would only be possible if peoples show mutual respect for each other. The pontiff said that Armenia joining the Council of Europe was proof of the “bold steps” being taken by the Armenian leadership to strengthen the democratic traditions needed for people to enjoy their basic human rights and freedoms.
Source: Mediamax news agency, Yerevan, in Russian 0902 gmt 25 Sep 01. BBC Worldwide Monitoring/ (c) BBC 2001.
Sources: BBC MONITORING INTERNATIONAL REPORTS , BBC MONITORING CENTRAL