Georgian president in Yerevan: “We have a common vision of the future”
Salome Zurabishvili has arrived in Armenia for a two-day official visit – her first in the role as president of Georgia.
Meeting with Armenian President Armen Sargsyan
Shortly before her visit to Armenia, Zurabishvili visited Azerbaijan. During her speech in Baku, she compared the Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan to the Abkhaz and Ossetian conflicts of Georgia:
“In recent years we have both experienced the same tragedy. We are still experiencing what it means to have our country’s territories occupied, and our territorial integrity violated,” Zurabishvili said while meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Earlier, the Georgian authorities avoided such formulations and maintained neutrality in assessing the Karabakh conflict.
Thus, many waited with great interest to see what the Georgian president would say in Yerevan.
“Armenia and Georgia are not only neighbors, but also friends. We live in a region for which peace and stability are crucial. These are the conditions for its development and the development of the economies of our countries … There are many challenges in the region and it must be remembered that the main way [forward] is a peaceful resolution of conflicts based on the norms of international law.
“Conflicts slow down our development, they need to be resolved through dialogue and negotiations … It should also be noted that for Georgia, it is very important that [the Karabakh] conflict not move to the territory of Georgia and that Armenians and Azerbaijanis live peacefully,” Zurabishvili said.
Armenian President Sargsyan also touched upon the Karabakh conflict while addressing the press. He stressed that the basis of the settlement of the conflict is the right of nations to self-determination. Armen Sargsyan also indirectly touched upon Zurabishvili’s statement in Baku:
“The conflicts and problems in the region are not the same, therefore the bases for their settlement are not the same.”
Also on the table
Zurabishvili stressed how important it was for Armenians living in Georgia to study the Georgian language. She claimed this will allow them to become full-fledged citizens and participants in the development of the country.
This topic is often broached by the Georgian authorities, but no real steps have been taken to improve the level of Georgian taught among the Armenian-populated region of Javakheti. Zurabishvili did not mention anything to this regard either.
She also spoke about cooperation between Georgia and the European Union.
“The most important stage will be the Batumi conference, where the vision of a new stage of relations with the EU, which will lead to final integration, will be presented,” Zurabishvili said.
President Armen Sargsyan was invited to the Georgia-EU Batumi conference in order to voice the position of Armenia.
“This is a conference dedicated to the 10th anniversary of our partnership with the European Union … We can demonstrate our common views here,” said Zurabishvili.
The President of Georgia also touched upon the issue of the delimitation of the border between the two countries:
“The time has come for our countries to complete the border delimitation. The delimitation process should not last that long between friends.”
Zurabishvili said the regulatory framework for this issue was fully prepared at the time when she was minister of foreign affairs.
“We have a great future and we are optimistic. We intend to continue the discussion on many issues and do not intend to limit ourselves to statements,” Salome Zurabishvili said in conclusion.
Meeting with PM Nikol Pashinyan
Zurabishvili met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on the first day of the visit.
The Armenian Prime Minister spoke about the possibility of raising relations between the countries to a new level and the need to rely on common strategic interests in bilateral relations.
“I made my first official visit as Prime Minister to Georgia, and this underlines the special attention of our government, my personal attention and awareness of the importance of the relationship between Armenia and Georgia.”
The President of Georgia also said she believes that the countries have “a common vision for the future”, and that “Together, we can do a lot, and we have a lot of joint business”.