Armenian Prime Minister Headed to Georgia

YEREVAN–Armenia’s Prime Minister is heading a delegation of government officials to Tbilisi for an annual meeting on economic cooperation, reported Armradio.

Tigran Sargsyan left Yerevan Monday and will arrive in the Georgian capital on Tuesday to participate in the Armenian-Georgian intergovernmental commission on Economic cooperation.

He is also scheduled to meet with Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili and Prime Minister Grigol Mgalobashvili.

Sargsyan will also visit an Armenian Church in Tbilisi, vandalized last month by Georgian Orthodox priest Father Tariel Sikinchelashvili.

The priest used a bulldozer to unearth Armenian graves from the Norashen courtyard on November 15, causing outrage from a Georgian Armenian community still bitter about Sikinchelashvili vandalism of Armenian gravestones in 2005, when he had attempted to replace Armenian tombstones with Georgian ones.

The actions, which follow a string of similar actions by the same priest, also spurred demonstrations in Yerevan last week.

More than two thousand students from 12 universities and representatives from several Yerevan based NGO’s rallied outside the United Nation’s office in downtown Yerevan on December 3 to present a letter of protest about the desecrations to the UN’s representative in Armenia, Consuelo Vidal.

Earlier this year, Sargsyan met in Minsk with the then Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze to discuss the fate of the embattled church, which at the time had been illegally fenced off by Sikinchelashvili, who claimed it belonged to the Georgian Church.

At the time, Sargsyan told Gurgenidze that his country’s encroachment on the rights of an Armenian Church threatened to spur unnecessary tension among Georgia’s large Armenian minority and damage relations between the two countries.

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