Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said after meeting with his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, in Yerevan on October 4, that relations between the two countries “have not been better than they are today”, RFE/RL Armenian service reported.
“As close friends and neighboring countries, we will always have some issues to discuss, but we are trying not to transform those issues into problems,” he was quoted as saying at a joint news conference with the Armenian counterpart. “I should say that we are finding understanding regarding each and every matter.”
Meanwhile in Tbilisi, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze, said, while commenting on Vashadze's visit to Yerevan, that despite Russia attempts to spoil relations between Georgia and Armenia, the two countries were developing active cooperation.
"As you are aware we have quite active relations with our neighbor [Armenia] and frequent high-level visits confirm that our relations are developing well," Kalandadze said at a news conference.
"Although our northern neighbor tries to make cracks in our relationship [with Armenia], it will not be reflected negatively on our relations," she added.
Also on October 4, Grigol Vashadze met with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
"President Sargsyan underlined importance of mutual visits on various levels, which foster further improvement and deepening of bilateral relations," the Armenian President's administration said in a statement after the meeting. It also said that implementation of agreements reached during the Armenian President's recent visit to Georgia in February would help to further promote cooperation between the two countries.
Vashadze's remarks on Russian military base in Armenia made at the news conference with his counterpart was in the focus of Armenian newswires while reporting on this visit. The reason is Vashadze's previous comments on the same issue made in an interview with the Azeri-Press Agency (APA) on September 7. At the time he was quoted as saying that "presence of Russian military base in South Caucasus is dangerous for Georgia, as well as for Azerbaijan and even more [dangerous] for sovereignty and independence of Armenia." In the same interview he also said that extending Moscow’s lease on Gyumri military base in Armenia to 2044 was "a huge, huge threat for Georgia." (APA posted on its website audio file of part of that interview where Vashadze makes these remarks after it has been suggested that Vashadze's comments were distorted).
Commenting on the Georgian Foreign Minister's reported remarks, the Armenian Foreign Ministry at that time suggested that Vashadze could have been misquoted. “In any case, no foreign official has the right to meddle in our affairs and make comments on our security issues,” Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at the time.
Asked about the issue at the new conference in Yerevan on October 4, Vashadze said that as a sovereign state "Armenia has the right to decide what kind of a security arrangement is good for this nation," RFE/RL Armenian service reported. It also reported that Vashadze said his statements were “sometimes not described quite accurately” by media.
On August 20, when Armenian-Russian military deal on Gyumri base lease extension was signed, Nino Kalandadze, the Georgian deputy foreign minister, said Tbilisi had no reason to suspect that Armenia would endanger regional security.
"For us it is important, that Armenia fully acknowledged and is acknowledging threat coming from Russia in respect of Georgia, including in the regional context. It is important for us that this awareness exists. We have good relations with Armenia and we have no reason to suspect that Armenia will in any form put regional security in danger," she said.
On the same issue, President Saakashvili said on September 3, that he was not at all concerned by Russia's agreements with Armenia and Ukraine under which Moscow prolonged presence of its military base and Black Sea fleet, respectively, in these countries.
"I am not nervous at all about it," he told lawmakers from his ruling party. "It may be a source of concern as it may be a threat in a short-term perspective, but in a long-term it won't do anything [to Georgia]. Like they [Russia] withdrew their rusty military bases from Georgia, even sooner they will pull thier bases from those countries, not even speaking about our territories [referring to Russian bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia]."