Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, held talks with the Georgian leadership in Tbilisi on June 18 to discuss consequences as Yerevan prepares for joining Russian-led economic bloc and Tbilisi plans to sign free trade treaty with the EU next week.
After the talks both the Georgian and Armenian officials were saying that the two countries should work closely in order to avoid setbacks in bilateral trade and economic cooperation and to turn “different paths” chosen by the two countries into new opportunity for Georgian and Armenian businesses.
“Let me reaffirm our huge desire and readiness to work with you in the spirit of friendship and mutual understanding. This visit to Georgia is immensely important for us… We have a broad range of issues and we will definitely be able to identify new perspectives of our mutually beneficial cooperation,” the Armenian President said after talks with his Georgian counterpart Giorgi Margvelashvili.
“Of course Armenia’s participation in the integration processes taking place in the Eurasian region was touched upon,” President Sargsyan said.
“We have presented to our Georgian colleagues efforts that have already been undertaken in this regard and further programs, in particular prospects for mutually beneficial economic cooperation with Georgia,” he said.
“I am deeply convinced that by signing the Association Agreement [with the EU] on June 27 and by becoming part of the free trade agreement [with the EU], Georgia is creating an opportunity for those Armenian businesses, which consider being part of the European market, to invest in Georgia, and vice-versa – after Armenia joins the Customs Union perspective will be opening for those Georgian businessmen who have or may have [access] to the Russian market or markets of other members of the Customs Union,” the Armenian President said.
Margvelashvili, referring to Sargsyan as a “close friend”, said that timing of this meeting between the Georgian and Armenian Presidents is “especial important” in the light of Georgia’s upcoming signing of the Association Agreement with the EU and Armenia’s intention to join the Customs Union.
“We stress that these steps will have positive results for the future of our countries,” the Georgian President said. “We have the same views on this and all the other issues.”
Also on June 18, the Armenian President met speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Davit Usupashvili, and other senior lawmakers. The Armenian delegation, led by the President, also includes several MPs.
“We have chosen to follow different paths of development,” the Georgian parliament speaker said after the meeting.
“We have decided to sign the Association Agreement with the EU and Armenia has decided to join another union together with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. We have agreed that we understand each other’s choice, we understand reasons, prerequisites of reasons behind our choices and it strengthens need for deepening our bilateral relations. We have agreed that Georgia and Armenia should work hard in order to avoid harming bilateral relations by presence in different trade unions, on the contrary we should work to improve these ties. We have to take special measures for this purpose,” Usupashvili said.
He also said that parliamentary delegations, including lawmakers from sectoral committees, will exchange visits “in order to better understand what kind of changes in respect of trade and business will follow after Armenia joins the Eurasian Union, and for Armenia to better understand what is changing in Georgia.”
“That is essential in order to have problem-free economic relations,” Usupashvili said.
“We should turn these different paths not into a mean of distancing from each other, but into [possibility] of strengthening our ties. We both understand very well that without each other we won’t be able to maintain our security and stability,” the Georgian parliament speaker said.
Speaking after the meeting with his Georgian counterpart, President Sargsyan said that “constant strengthening of Armenian-Georgian partnership represents one of Armenian foreign policy priorities.”
“Existing fragile stability and peace in the South Caucasus region is largely due to productive and strong cooperation between Armenia and Georgia. We have always been respecting each other’s decisions,” Sargsyan said.
“In the context of regional security, we have noted importance of productive cooperation on the international forums, maintaining of balanced and constructive position on the issues, which are sensitive for each of us. This is very important issue. Together with the Georgian President we are of the same opinion, that comprehensive resolution of all the conflicts is possible solely through peaceful means in line with the principles of international law,” the Armenian President said.