Georgian Speaker Continues Armenia Visit

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian met with the Georgian delegation led by Georgian Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze on Wednesday.

According to president’s press office–Kocharian told the Georgian leader how satisfied he was with this year’s mutual visits of various officials from the two nations. He highly evaluated the agreement on friendship–cooperation and mutual security signed during the official visit of Georgian president to Armenia. He also said that the agreement includes almost all spheres of bilateral cooperation–and it determines the principles of relations between the two countries for the next ten years.

Burjanadze said that there are no problems between Armenia and Georgia. There are some issues which can be easily solved by joint efforts. She expressed readiness to support the strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries by creating an auspicious legislative field for political and economic cooperation.

Burjanadze assured Kocharian that Georgia’s cooperation with any other country will not endanger Armenian-Georgian relations or damage Armenia’s interests in any way.

The participants of the meeting stated that they will do their best to include both countries in all regional programs. The two leaders also discussed the issues of restoring the Abkhazia railroad and they concluded their discussion on the topic of Russian-Georgian relations.

Burjanadze also met with Prime Minister Andranik Margarian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian on Wednesday–when she assured them that Georgia will continue to have friendly relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan only to settle their relations with Armenia. She promised that Georgia will never take any step that would damage the Armenia’s interests.

She also said that Georgia hails all proposals to further intensify economic cooperation between Armenia and Georgia–in her speech at the National Assembly of Armenia. Burjanadze added that peace and stability in the South Caucasus are needed to intensify any economic activity. Stressing the importance of settling conflicts existing in the Caucasus–the speaker expressed confidence that the people of the two countries "would find the courage to seek new ways of solving the difficult problems that emerged as a result of the existing conflict."

Pointing out the need for boosting cooperation between the two parliamen’s–Burjanadze emphasized that the legislators should promote solutions to the problems that immediately concern parliamentary activities-these are issues related to further economic development–particularly–the opening of the Abkhazian railroad.

"I know how painful the subject of the railroad is for my Armenian colleagues–as well as for all the people of Armenia. I am very thankful to the Armenian leadership that despite all the difficulties that you experienced because of the problems with the railroad–you understood the problems existing in Georgia that have prevented us from solving the railroad issue thus far," said Burjanadze. According to the speaker–the Georgians are beginning to look at this problem in a different way as well–realizing the importance of the railroad for Armenia’s economy and the region as a whole. "We are ready to seek new approaches to find a way to re-open the railroad as soon as possible–taking advantage of even a small positive change in the Abkhazian conflict settlement."

According to Burjanadze–the different international orientations of Armenia and Georgia may be of mutual benefit as well. "I think that we can use the relations that we now have with Turkey and Azerbaijan for the welfare of Armenia–just like Armenia can facilitate the improvement of our relations with our big neighbor (Russia)," said Burjanadze.

Georgia highly appreciates the Armenian government’s support for the official Georgian policy regarding the Armenian population of Georgia. "Georgia always adheres to the position which meets the interests of the Georgian state," she said. Burjanadze expressed confidence that those in Armenia–being well aware of the problems existing in Javakhk–should know that the difficulties in Javakhk are not ethnically charged and that the problems are not manufactured by the authorities. "I am sure that the population of this region (of any ethnicity) are worthy Georgian citizens–and in its turn–Georgia will do everything possible to create normal living conditions for them," added Burjanadze. The allegations made by Georgia’s adversaries about Georgia’s official position regarding the withdrawal of Russian military bases from the territory of Akhalkalak are also untrue. The Armenian side stated that they would like the Russian base to be maintained because the base provides jobs for the people living near it.

"During the Georgian delegation’s visit to Armenia–the sides did not bypass a single thorny issue in the mutual relations between the two countries," agreed the speakers of the Armenian and Georgian parliamen’s said in a press conference on Wednesday. According to Armenian Parliament Speaker Armen Khachatrian–what makes this visit different from the previous ones is that concrete agreemen’s on all issues of cooperation were signed.

Speaking about the two countries’ common interests–Burjanadze pointed out that it is very important for Georgia that Armenia is integrated into all the processes in the Caucasus-Georgia’s task is that Armenia’should join all the projects passing through Georgia. "We believe it is very important attach tremendous importance to Georgia’s and Armenia’s joint participation in global projects–such as the European Union’s TRACECA and INOGATE–and we feel that besides the West-East axis–it is necessary to develop North-South axis as well."

According to Burjanadze–Georgia no longer links the opening of the Abkhazian railroad with the ultimate resolution of the conflict and with Abkhazia’s status–however–it is going to set a condition–and it is going to gradually return the refugees back to these areas. Burjanadze hopes that Russia will play a great role in settling the Abkhazian conflict.

Answering the question about Georgia’s debt to Armenia ($19.6 million)–Burjanadze stated that despite its own economic difficulties–the Armenian government understands the economic difficulties Georgia faces. The Georgian speaker said that the President of Armenia assured her that the agreement about the restructuring of the outstanding debts of Georgia would be signed soon.

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