Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with Armenia’s leaders on Friday during an official visit to Yerevan which focused on economic issues, including energy and transport.
“We discussed both our bilateral relations and regional issues,” Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetian said after talks with Kvirikashvili.
“We spoke about possible areas of our cooperation,” Karapetian told a joint news briefing. “That includes the Meghri free economic zone [on the Armenian-Iranian border.] We spoke in detail and will continue to talk later today and agreed how we will be moving forward in the energy and transport sectors.”
“We can conclude we have emerged from the negotiations in a fairly good mood,” he added.
Kvirikashvili also mentioned the two areas of Georgian-Armenian economic cooperation but, like Karapetian, did not give any details. “We should utilize our economic potential and I think that our meeting today will contribute to that,” he said in his opening remarks at the talks.
The Georgian premier met with President Serzh Sarkisian later in the day.
An Armenian government statement on Karapetian’s talks with Kvirikashvili said the two men stressed the importance of “developing energy cooperation in bilateral and multilateral formats.” Armenia is currently building new electricity transmission lines that will connect it to Georgia and Iran. They are due to be completed next year.
Kvirikashvili most probably also discussed in Yerevan the possible opening of new transport corridors between Georgia and Russia that would facilitate cargo shipments to and from Armenia. Most of Russian-Armenian trade is currently carried out through the sole Russian-Georgian border crossing at Upper Lars. Traffic along that mountainous road is frequently blocked by blizzards in winter months.
The two other roads connecting Georgia and Russia pass through the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They were closed even before the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. In 2011, Moscow and Tbilisi agreed to hire a Swiss company to operate special customs checkpoints to be set up on the administrative boundaries of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Despite their lingering political disagreements, the two sides seem to have slowly but steadily made progress towards the implementation of that agreement. The Georgian government signed a relevant contract with a Swiss company on December 19. A senior Russian diplomat said in January that Moscow will likely follow suit “in the coming months.”
Armenian leaders have repeatedly expressed hope that the 2011 Russian-Georgian deal will be implemented.