Georgia’s embattled President Mikheil Saakashvili visited Armenia on Friday to hold talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and take part in a high-level meeting on the European integration of the two South Caucasus states and Moldova.
Saakashvili and Sarkisian met in a tête-à-tête format before attending the mini-summit organized by the European People’s Party (EPP), a coalition of Europe’s leading conservative parties. Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Union’s executive Commission, EPP leader Wilfried Martens and Moldova’s Prime Minister Vlad Filat were also in attendance.
The one-day meeting focused on EPP support for the EU’s Eastern Partnership program offering Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and three other ex-Soviet states deeper integration with the EU. Saakashvili’s United National Movement and Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia have a status of observer members of the EPP.
Armenia - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the leaders of Armenia, Georgia and Moldova address journalists after a meeting in Yerevan, 30Nov2012.
The Eastern Partnership will be high on the agenda of Barroso’s separate talks with Serzh Sarkisian and other top Armenian officials scheduled for Saturday. “During the meetings, H.E. Barroso will discuss issues such as EU-Armenia relations, the internal political situation and regional issues, as well as other issues of mutual interest,” the EU Delegation in Yerevan said in a statement.
According to Sarkisian’s press office, the Armenian and Georgian presidents discussed relations between their nations and their “cooperation within the EPP framework.” They also touched upon “reforms and democratic processes taking place in Armenia and Georgia,” the office said in a statement.
Saakashvili has lost much of his power since his party was defeated by an opposition alliance led by billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili in parliamentary elections held last month. Several senior officials linked to him have been arrested on charges of abuse of power which Saakashvili’s party rejects as politically motivated. U.S. and EU officials have expressed serious concern at the arrests.
The Armenian ambassador in Tbilisi, Hovannes Manukian, has already met with Foreign Maia Panjikidze and most other members of Georgia’s new government headed by Ivanishvili and passed on to them official invitations to visit Yerevan.