Having Lunch with the FT with the president of Armenia proves as diplomatically ticklish as it is gastronomically sensatio­nal. True to the traditions of lavish hospitality in his tiny Caucasian country, Armen Sarkissian refuses to accept that any visitor could ever treat him to lunch in his home city of Yerevan. But when I tell him of the FT’s rigid rules, he suggests a generous compromise: we should have a second lunch two days later which, he reluctantly concedes, the FT may be allowed to cover. So precedent is breached, but honour satisfied.

The first of our two girth-busting and brain-bursting lunches takes place in Ankyun, an Italian-Armenian fusion restaurant in the centre of Yerevan, a quirky urban hybrid of slab-faced Soviet architecture and grandiose Caucasian style. When Sarkissian arrives, preceded by a posse of leather-jacketed, earpiece-wearing bodyguards, we are soon drawn into a discussion of the drama of last year’s “velvet revolution” and the stand-off betwee...

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