Shevardnadze Kocharian Make Headway in Talks

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze began a two-day official visit to Armenia on Tuesday. President Robert Kocharian welcomed Eduard Shevardnadze to Armenia at the Zvartnots airport.

In a meeting on Tuesday of the two leaders–the two presidents signed an Agreement "On Friendship–Cooperation and Mutual Security between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia." The sides also signed agreemen’s "On cooperation in the sphere of forensic expert examination between the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia and the Ministry of Justice of Georgia,"On cooperation between the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia and the Ministry of Justice of Georgia," as well as protocols on the exchange of instrumen’s of ratification of the agreement "On legal assistance in criminal cases between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia" signed on June 4–1996–and the agreement "On legal assistance in civil cases between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia" singed on June 4–1996.

Later that that day–the two leaders held a joint press conference in Yerevan where President Shevardnadze assured President Kocharian that Georgia’s military cooperation with Turkey will never be directed against Armenia.

He said that the degree of their cooperation with Turkey is within the limits of accepted relations between states. "There is no specially exceptional element in them," said Shevardnadze–adding that "no relations and no agreement signed by the leaders of Georgia will ever be directed against Armenia’s interests." The Georgian president is also confident in Armenia’s fidelity towards Georgia–stating that he believes that Armenia would not sign any agreement that would harm Georgia in any way.

President Kocharian called for a detailed study of the Agreement on Friendship–Cooperation and Mutual Security signed between Armenia and Georgia on Tuesday. The provisions of the Agreement–according to Kocharian–imply that Georgia and Armenia will never take steps aimed against each other’s interests.

In both presidents’ opinion–the most important aspect of the signed Agreement is that it determines the prospect of long-term cooperation.

Kocharian supported Shevardnadze’s terminology about South-Eastern Europe within the agreemen’s–which states that South-Eastern Europe should also include the countries of the South Caucasus.

As for cooperation among the three states–Armenia–Georgia and Azerbaijan–Kocharian reiterated Armenia’s position for developing economic cooperation with Azerbaijan–which–in his opinion–will foster the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. He also pointed out the Azeri position which is to first settle the conflict and then develop economic relations.

Kocharian also stated that Armenia is interested in the speediest resolution of the Abkhazian conflict. According to President Shevardnadze–certain actions have been taken in this matter. He said he hopes that Russia will take an active role in the resolution of the conflict. Without Russia–according to the Georgian president–"one can hardly imagine the ultimate solution to the problem."

The development of a efficient means of transportation is one of the key issues of Armenian-Georgian cooperation. According to Kocharian–Armenia has invested a large amount of money in the development of efficient means of transportation–and that Armenia could serve as a transit zone for European countries–including Georgia–on their way to Iran. The Georgian president added that if the Abkhazia conflict is resolved soon–the railroad passing through Abkhazia–which is strategically very significant–would be restored.

According to Shevardnadze–both sides also sent official letters to the European Union regarding the reconstruction of the path connecting Yerevan–Tbilisi–Poti and Batumi–which–according to the Georgian president–"will be a big acquisition." Thetwo also discussed ways of improving air service between Yerevan and Tbilisi as well as issues of information exchange.

On Wednesday President Shevardnadze will visit the Genocide Memorial and lay a wreath in memory of the victim of 1915 Genocide and then he will visit the National Assembly. The same day–he will hold a meeting with students and teachers at Yerevan State University and he will attend the opening ceremony of an exhibition of Georgian painters at the National Picture Gallery of Armenia.

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