Georgia’s new Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia praised Armenia for recognizing Georgian sovereignty over two breakaway regions during his first official visit to Yerevan on Tuesday.
“Armenia supports us on the question of our territorial integrity, which is very important for us and for which we are grateful,” Gakharia said after talks with his Armenian counterpart Nikol Pashinian.
“I think that we should maintain this positive dynamic and strengthen mutual support on international platforms,” he told reporters.
Gakharia, who was elected prime minister by the Georgian parliament last month, did not elaborate on the Armenian support cited by him. Johnny Melikian, a Yerevan-based Georgia analyst, suggested that he referred to Yerevan’s decision in June to abstain in a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution on the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Siding with Russia, Armenia’s former government voted against similar resolutions drafted by Georgia in previous years. For its part, Tbilisi has backed pro-Azerbaijani resolutions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“There used to be consensus in the 1990s,” Melikian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Tbilisi and Yerevan understood that they should not vote against each other. This changed in the 2000s under [then Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili. Deepening relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey, they adopted a more pro-Azerbaijani foreign policy.”
“This move [by Armenia] showed Tbilisi that we support them and expect the same kind of assistance from them if Azerbaijan or another state comes up with an anti-Armenian document on Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.
Speaking at a joint news briefing with Gakharia, Pashinian said Georgian-Armenian relations must not be hampered by “external factors. “We discussed regional conflicts in this context,” he said.
“I reaffirmed our position that every conflict is unique and solutions to conflicts should therefore stem from their essence,” added Pashinian. “In this regard we stressed the importance of maintaining balanced positions on issues sensitive to each other.”
Georgian-Armenian economic ties were also high on the agenda of the talks, with both prime ministers singling out bilateral cooperation on energy and transport. Gakharia noted “good progress” in that area.
According to official Armenian statistics, Georgian-Armenian trade rose by over 5 percent to $92 million in the first eight months of this year.