Georgian Foreign Minister Visits Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian met with his Georgian counterpart Irakly Menagarishvili Friday–who is on a one-day working visit to Armenia–to discuss issues related to the upcoming visits of Georgia’s President Edward Shevardnadze to Armenia and Armenia’s Prime Minister Armen Darbinian to Georgia–the two foreign ministers said in a joint press briefing.

During their meeting–the two foreign ministers discussed bilateral relations on the given stage and their prospects as well as problems of regional concern. They also exchanged information on the latest developmen’s in the Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia conflicts. The sides referred to the importance of the recent meeting of the chairman of parliamen’s of the three Transcaucasian states held in Strasbourg under the auspices of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from the point of view of establishing a more favorable atmosphere in the region and developing regional cooperation.

Menagarishvili emphasized the need for boosted bilateral economic ties. He reported that a working meeting of the Armenian-Georgian joint economic commission is scheduled to be held in Yerevan early next month. Bilateral dialogue are under way between Georgia and Armenia and Georgia and Azerbaijan regarding prospects for military cooperation. A similar dialogue–in particular–took place during Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sargssian’s visit to Georgia.

Expressing satisfaction with the existing active political dialogue between the two countries–Vardan Oskanian stressed that more could be done in the aspect of economic cooperation–considering that there are common interests in this field. According to the minister–the development of bilateral relations are of great importance in safeguarding peace and stability in the region and in this sense Armenian-Georgian relations can be described as strategic.

According to Menagarishvili–Georgia has not set itself to become a NATO member but attaches high importance to partnership with this organization within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program. According to him–Georgia-NATO cooperation will promote the development of armed forces–military and political thought in the country. The minister said that in the case with the adaptation to the existing terms of the CIS Collective Security Agreement–Georgia is ready to discuss its participation in the agreement.

Speaking of Russian military bases in Georgia–Menagarishvili said that lack of appropriate legislation was a major obstacle to their activities. The agreement signed five years ago still awaits ratification–since the Russian side has not fulfilled some of the conditions. The Georgian initiative to set up a relevant commission to settle a number of issues between the sides has evoked no reaction yet.

The minister of the two countries will meet in Tbilisi during the 13th summit of BSEC foreign ministers to be held there.

Menagarishvili arrived in Armenia Thursday on a one-day official visit. At the "Zvartnots" Airport he held a meeting with his Armenian counterpart Vardan Oskanian. Talking to reporters–Menagarishvili pointed out that this is his regular visit in a number of meetings regularly held by the two country’s foreign ministers. "We have much to talk about–many issues to agree upon–and I hope that the visit will be fruitful," he said. The Georgian foreign minister reported that no documen’s are to be signed during the visit. He pointed out that "a very serious basis for negotiations has been formed" between the two countries. "Our task is see to it that the agreemen’s be effectively put into practice. This is the chief purpose of my visit."

Menagarishvili also pointed out that during the meetings he will hold with Armenian top officials all the range of issues related to relations both on the bilateral and on the multilateral basis will be discussed. "We have a very complex–but at the same time a very interesting region where many very important events take place. And it is very important that our friendly states–our people should regularly synchronize their watches–which we are going to do today," the Georgian foreign minister said.

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