“Relations between the two countries have never been so productive during the last 20 years of independence,” Tengiz Sharmanashvili told a news conference. “These relations are particularly active on the political level.
“You know how often the presidents of our countries meet. They have also developed a good interpersonal rapport. And in general, there are very close ties between our governments.”
Georgia has sought membership in NATO and the European Union since the early 1990s, a policy that has been particularly accentuated under President Mikheil Saakashvili. Armenia, by contrast, has been more cautious in forging links with the West and continues to rely heavily on Russia for defense and security.
These differing strategic priorities have become more vivid since the 2008 Russian-Georgian war in South Ossetia, which dealt a huge blow to the already strained relations between Moscow and Tbilisi.
Sharmanashvili, who took over as ambassador two months ago, insisted that this fact does not have an adverse impact on Georgian-Armenian ties. “I am happy that the presidents of both Armenia and Georgia have pointed out that our bilateral ties will never be affected by relations with third countries,” he said.
“If you are monitoring developments, you can see that both Armenia and Georgia are trying not to touch upon such problems when it comes to bilateral relations,” added the diplomat. “We were neighbors and developed together when those third entities did not even exist in the world.”
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian likewise spoke of “truly friendly relations” existing between the two ancient neighbors when he met with his Georgian counterpart, Grigol Vashadze, in Yerevan late last month. The two men are thought to have discussed the Georgian parliament’s April 19 decision not to renew an agreement that has allowed Russia to use Georgian territory for making shipments to a Russian military base in Armenia.
The decision complicated continued Russian military presence in Armenia, a key element of Yerevan’s national security doctrine. Armenian officials downplayed its implications, however.
Commercial ties are another major focus of frequent mutual visits by Armenian and Georgian leaders. In particular, they have discussed ways of boosting bilateral trade, which stood at a modest $100 million in 2010.
Yerevan and Tbilisi also announced in February plans to jointly operate the Georgian-Armenian border crossings in an effort to facilitate and expand transport communication between the two states.