Kocharian On Georgian Turkish Relations

YEREVAN(Noyan Tapan)–In his interview to the Georgian Prime News agency–President Robert Kocharian said that Armenia is intently following the development of the Georgian-Turkish military cooperation.

Kocharian pointed out that the present level of cooperation does not scare or bother Armenia–though–as he said "we are not particularly delighted for obvious reasons." The president also said that "the depth of the relations between Armenia and Georgia and the logic of historical relations between nations and countries suggests that we should not build relations with third countries to the detriment of each other."

Kocharian also stated that Armenia does not exclude a possibility of constructive participation in the settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict–but only if all the parties wish it,.

Kocharian expressed his concern over the state of Armenia’s living in Abkhazia: "The future of our compatriots–no matter what country they live in–cannot but bother our government–especially when they are in the conflict area. Unfortunately–peaceful people–among them Armenia’s–fell victim to the latest events in Abkhazia".

He also said that Shevardnadze and he have "a long tradition of open discussions of the problems of our compatriots who are Georgian citizens. We express our willingness to contribute to a solution to the socio-economic problems in the Armenian-populated areas of Georgia," Kocharian said.

Kocharian also discussed the history of Armenian-Georgian relations with the Georgian news agency. "During centuries Armenia’s and Georgians have lived as good friends and neighbors," Kocharian said. "There is a reciprocal wish to further develop mutual relations. Both Georgia and Armenia realize that efficient political dialogue will be beneficial not only for them–but for the entire region," Kocharian said–adding that he was not satisfied with the level of economic cooperation between the two countries–which is mainly restricted to energy and transport sectors.

"Volumes of trade turnover between Georgia and Armenia are not growing and the number of operating joint ventures is very small," Kocharian said. He also said that both Georgia and Armenia’suffer huge losses because of Georgian railway being not operational. Kocharian called for stepping up efforts for making operational a ferry boat line between Georgian port of Poti and Russian port Kavkaz.

In response to a question about his opinion of the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia–President Kocharian said that that issue was between Georgian and Russia–"but we apprehend the concerns of the population of Georgian region of Javakhk (where the base is located) regarding the pull out of the base. For many local Armenia’s–working at the base–is their only source of income," Kocharian said.

According to him–living in immediate neighborhood with Turkey for many Georgian Armenia’s is another concern–having in mind Armenia’s complicated relations with Stability In Caucasus Precondition For Implementation Of Projects In his interview–President Kocharian said Armenia is very interested in participating in regional cooperation. According to Kocharian–regional transport programs cannot be fully implemented without the region’s all countries fullest participation.

In a reference to claims that Baku-Tbilis-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi- Erzerum oil projects would not be realized without final settlement of the Karabagh conflict president Kocharian said that the regional stability was the best possible guarantor for implementation of such big projects.

"In this respect not only the Karabagh conflict–but also other regional conflicts are becoming serious obstacles for implementation," Kocharian said.

Kocharian also said that the OSCE Minsk group format was so far the most efficient and acceptable way for trying to end the Karabagh conflict–but dismissed the possibility of Georgia’s involvement as a mediator.

Kocharian also said the next round of his direct meetings with Azerbaijan’s president Aliyev would resume "as soon as there arouses its necessity. Now the productivity of our meetings is not very high and the whole weight is shifted on the Minsk group," Kocharian said.

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