Georgian and Armenian Foreign Ministers Discuss Regional Stability

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Georgian Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili arrived in Armenia Monday on a one-day visit. The most significant of issues discussed concerned the furthering of joint activities of Georgia’s and Armenian foreign ministries–Menagarishvili reported at a press conference following his meeting with his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian.

Menagarishvili said that the discussed program is directed at intensifying the process of further rapprochement between the two countries and peoples. In particular–an agreement was reached on holding consultations at the ministers’ level regarding implementation of regional cooperation policy as well as the two countries’ cooperation within the framework of European structures. The first consultative meeting is expected to be held in the near future.

Regarding the development of the Armenian-Georgian relations through the patronage of Russia–Menagarishvili said–"I think that the Armenian-Georgian relations are not in need of outside patronage. We are willing to be good friends–we do not need patrons." The minister recalled that Armenian-Georgian relations have deep historical roots.

The Georgian foreign minister disagreed with the view that rapprochement between Georgia and Azerbaijan can have a negative impact on Armenian-Georgian relations. Menagarishvili stressed that closer relations with any country–especially in the Transcaucasian region–are not aimed against a third side. He said Georgia has been supporting the multilateral and comprehensive regional cooperation with the participation of all Transcaucasian countries. The minister added that Georgia is centering its efforts on development of trilateral and multilateral regional cooperation.

Menagarishvili did not rule out the possibility of holding the meeting of the Georgian and Abkhazian presidents–Shevardnadze and Ardzinba–in Armenia–but he stressed that it is not the place of the meeting–which is important–but the willingness of the parties to reach the necessary settlement of the conflict. The minister also discussed the urgent issue of the need for the implementation of the Gali protocol (the question is in the problem of returning refugees to the Gali region). The minister stressed that there are no positive changes regarding that issues yet.

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian–in his turn–stressed that during the meeting issues of bilateral and regional cooperation as well as those regarding Armenia’s and Georgia’s integration into European structures were discussed. The minister rated these discussions as "quite satisfactory." As a result of these discussions the two ministers arrived at the agreement that a bilateral Armenia-Georgia committee should be set up to discuss all bilateral economic problems.

Oskanian also reported that during the meeting his Georgian counterpart presented information about the latest developmen’s in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. "We support prompt and peaceful solution to the problem–because stability in Georgia is of vital importance to Armenia–it is a strategically important problem for us," Oskanian said.

Oskanian positively assessed the "Peaceful Caucasus" program and pointed out that Armenia will make efforts to realize similar programs. Stressing that the future of the Caucasus lies in such cooperation–the minister said that Azerbaijan is hampering this cooperation. "We should look for ways to create a more stable situation and start a tripartite cooperation in the Caucasus," Oskanian says.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian also received the Georgian foreign minister.

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