By Gevorg Stamboltsian and Armen Zakarian
Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili completed her first- ever official visit to Armenia on 22 July. During the visit, Zourabichvili held meetings with Armenian President Robert Kocharian, parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and her Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian. Bilateral relations and important regional issues were high on the agenda.
During the meeting with Zourabichvili, President Kocharian expressed satisfaction with the "high level of inter-state relations with Georgia, which are based on mutual trust and cooperation." Kocharian noted that Georgia is going through a rather hard time, but he expressed the hope that "the Georgian authorities will soon overcome these difficulties."
"We are highly interested in stability in Georgia," Kocharian said.
"The visit of the head of the Foreign Ministry of Georgia and meetings at a high level will give a new context to issues on the Armenian-Georgian agenda," Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian said on 21 July during his meeting with his Georgian counterpart.
"The parties noted a high potential for mutually advantageous cooperation in the matter of deepening interaction with European and Euro-Atlantic structures, namely, with EU and NATO," according to the press-service of Armenian Foreign Ministry. "The countries have great opportunities after the South Caucasian countries have been included in the [European Union's] New Neighborhood initiative."
During his meeting with Zourabichvili, Oskanian emphasized the importance of developing both North-South and East-West highways and transport corridors. The two ministers exchanged opinions on the resumption of traffic on all railways in the region, namely, Kars-Giumri-Tbilisi and the Abkhaz section of the railway linking Russia and Armenia via Georgia. The two ministers also discussed regional electricity supplies, cooperation with Iran, and the Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts and how they could be resolved.
On 21 July, Salome Zourabichvili laid wreaths at the Memorial to victims of the Armenian genocide. She also held a meeting with representatives of the Georgian Diaspora and visited the Parajanov museum.
"There are never concrete results from one visit, but it is a process that we are starting. We are determined to increase our economic relations," Zourabichvili told journalists before boarding the airplane for Tbilisi in Zvartnots airport.
"Political relations are very good, but we have to deepen them, and especially we have to appear in front of Europeans," Zourabichvili continued. "We have to appear as one region, speaking as much as possible with one voice."
Asked by RFE/RL whether the key to reopening the Abkhazian section of the Russia-Georgia-Armenia railway lies in Russia or in Georgia, Zourabichvili answered "There is a small key here too."