President Zurabishvili Pays Official Visit to Armenia

The first female president of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, paid an official visit to neighboring Armenia on March 13-14 and held high-rank meetings with state officials there.

During the meeting with her Armenian counterpart, Armen Sarkissian, Zurabishvili noted that Georgia and Armenia have a great potential for further developing relations. She thanked her counterpart for the warm reception, stressing that this visit signifies Georgia’s expectation to further deepen relations with Armenia.

As emphasized, Georgia recognizes the territorial integrity of all states within their internationally recognized borders. Also, Georgia is ready to support the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Zurabishvili spoke about the delimitation of the Georgia-Armenia state border. She also discussed Georgia’s European integration and the EU position in this process.

At the joint press conference in Yerevan, Zurabishvili highlighted the vital importance of stability and peace for the region. She invited President Sarkissian to Georgia to attend the Batumi Conference marking the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership.

“We are not only neighbors, but also friends. We live in a region for which stability and peace are decisive. Stability and peace are necessary preconditions for further developing our economies and our economic cooperation. We face many challenges in the region; we should realize that the only way to overcome these challenges and solve these conflicts that impede our development is a peaceful way that will be based on international legal norms. This is a subject for negotiations and dialogue - this is our strong belief,” she stated.

The Georgian President also noted that active economic cooperation between the two countries is necessary, be it in tourism, new technologies, energy, or transport infrastructure that can be extended to Armenia.

“We have a great future. We are vigorous optimists. We are going to continue to discuss a lot of issues and not just on the level of statements, but actually present our views. We both have the right of initiative, speech and advice, and through exercising this right, we can influence not only our societies, but also executive and legislative authorities to develop relations that are all-encompassing and beneficial for the future,” she said.

Sarkissian accepted his counterpart’s invitation to Georgia, highlighting that developing exceptional relations with Georgia is one of the top priorities on Armenia’s political agenda.

“This is evidenced by the recent high-level meetings and achieved agreements between Georgia and Armenia. Armenia is eager to establish, protect, and maintain the atmosphere of peace, security, and cooperation in the region. My Georgian colleague and I share the same view on the solutions to regional conflicts. We think that problems and conflicts and their solutions are not the same; however, I strongly believe that a solution should be found only in a peaceful way, but in accordance with international law and norms,” he said.

The Armenian President also noted that his country attaches great importance to the implementation of energy and logistics projects in the South Caucasus to ensure regional security, sustainability, and development.

“We also attach great importance to cooperation in education, culture, and those activities that aim at cultural heritage protection. We are sure that our joint efforts in this direction will be effective,” said Sarkissian.

After meeting Sarkissian, Zurabishvili had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan. The sides discussed key aspects of Georgia-Armenia political and economic cooperation.

"Our relations should be based on common strategic interest and I am glad to receive the same response from the Georgian government. Now the time has come to bring this mutual understanding into action,” Pashinyan said.

In President Zurabishvili’s view, it is important to realize the full potential of Georgia and Armenia’s further developed relations. “We can do much more together than alone; we have a lot to do,” she said.

As highlighted, Georgia and Armenia have a great potential for enhancing bilateral relations; Georgia’s economic potential is better promoted after the country signed free trade agreements with the EU and China.

It was noted that Armenia is Georgia’s partner in terms of tourism. Tourism traffic index between Georgia and Armenia is high. Armenia ranks 3rd in the number of visitors entering Georgia. In terms of Georgian visitors traveling to Armenia, Georgia also holds a decent place on the list.

Conversation touched upon ethnic Armenians living in Georgia, their integration into the social and economic life of Georgia, and acquisition of the Georgian language.

Zurabishvili and Pashinyan also discussed cultural cooperation between the two countries.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: Georgian President’s Administration

14 March 2019 16:52
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