President Serzh Sarkisian will travel to Georgia early next week on an official visit that was reportedly delayed for unclear reasons.
Sarkisian’s office announced on Tuesday that the visit has been scheduled for November 29-30 and will result in the signing of “documents aimed at developing Armenian-Georgian cooperation in a number of areas.” It gave no details.
A spokeswoman for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Manana Manjgaladze, announced the same dates for the trip at a news conference in Tbilisi earlier in the day.
Manjgaladze was quoted by Georgian media as saying last month that Sarkisian will arrive in Tbilisi at the beginning of November. However, official Yerevan denied that, saying that the Armenian leader has not scheduled any trips abroad for that period.
The conflicting information sparked speculation that Sarkisian thus expressed his displeasure with Saakashvili’s reported remark that Georgian authorities would have responded faster and more effectively to a massive landslide in northern Armenia that killed five people in early October.
Armenia’s Minister of Emergency Situations Armen Yeritsian afterwards questioned the veracity of the statement attributed to the Georgian president.
Visiting Yerevan on November 7, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze insisted that Sarkisian’s visit was not cancelled. He said the two sides simply failed to prepare for it on time.
The trip was announced two days after the Armenian and Georgian prime ministers chaired a regular session of an inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation in the Georgian city of Batumi. They said their governments are pressing ahead with plans for joint management of the Georgian-Armenian border crossings and will continue to expand bilateral commercial ties.
Sarkisian and Saakashvili most recently met in Yerevan last January. Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze said earlier this month that the two leaders maintain a “good personal rapport.”