Armenia Georgia Claim Progress On Economic Ties

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian-Georgian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation wound up a two-day meeting in Yerevan on Friday–announcing progress on several contentious issues. Prime Minister Andranik Markarian said the talks were "difficult" but overall productive.

Meeting with a Georgian government delegation led by vice-premier Koba Gvenetadze–Markarian noted a "certain movement forward" in bilateral economic relations.

Officials said Thursday’s discussions between the two delegations were far longer than planned–continuing late into the night. The agreemen’s were said to be contained in a joint memorandum signed by the parties on Friday. However–the document was not made available to the media.

One of the issues topping the agenda of the talks was Georgia’s debts to Armenia–which according to Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Yervand Zakharian–the Armenian co-chair of the commission–currently totals $24 million. Zakharian and Gvenetadze told reporters that the finance ministries of the two countries will try to work out a timetable for its repayment within the next month.

The parties also agreed to keep the current tariffs for Armenian cargoes passing through Georgian territory unchanged for the rest of the year. The Armenian government has been pushing for a reduction of the transit fees. Zakharian expressed hope that Tbilisi will agree to the tariff reduction next year.

Armenia currently has to pay $24 for every ton of oil products and $17 for other commodities exported and imported via Georgia–its main conduit to the outside world. Tbilisi imposes lower fees on Azerbaijani cargoes.

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