Georgian Defense Minister In Armenia for Talks

Georgia's defense minister, Bacho Akhalaia, visits Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia and Georgia are successfully deepening bilateral military ties despite their differing geopolitical orientations, the defense ministers of the two neighboring states said after talks in Yerevan on Monday.

“Armenian-Georgian military cooperation is effectively developing, encompassing peacekeeping, military education, exercises and other areas,” Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian told a joint news conference with his visiting Georgian counterpart, Bacho Akhalaia.

Georgia's defense minister lays wreath at Dzidzernagapert

“That cooperation aims to ensure an exchange of experience and form an atmosphere of mutual trust in the peaceful resolution of regional security problems,” he said.

Both ministers insisted that Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and Georgia’s closer security ties with the West and ambition to join NATO are not an obstacle to that cooperation.

“Georgian-Armenian relations are special, and no force can impede cooperation between the two countries, which I’m sure will become stronger soon,” said Akhalaia.

Ohanian, for his part, argued that the world’s leading powers and military alliances support peaceful solutions to the conflicts in the South Caucasus and other regions. He said regional security was also high on the agenda of his talks with Akhalaia.

“I think that maintenance of regional peace and stability is one of the most important directions within the framework of cooperation between our countries,” he added.

“For us, regional peace and stability are the chief priority,” Akhalaia said when asked about Georgia’s position on the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “All the conflicts in the Caucasus must be solved only peacefully.”

The two men gave no further details of their negotiations.

The 30-year-old Georgian minister, who was making his first-ever official visit to Armenia, met with President Serzh Sarkisian later in the day. Sarkisian was quoted by his press office as welcoming “active contacts and mutual high-level visits” between the two countries.

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