Prime Minister arrives in Georgia on official visit
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has arrived in Georgia on an official visit. Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani met the Prime Minister of Armenia at the Shota Rustaveli International Airport in Tbilisi. Nikol Pashinyan headed to the Office of Georgian government to hold high-level Armenian-Georgian talks.
Meetings are scheduled with Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, President Salome Zurabishvili, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze and Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II.
* * *
An official welcoming ceremony for Prime Minister Nikola Pashinyan was held in the Office of Georgian Government. First, the anthems of Armenia and Georgia were played, after which Nikol Pashinyan and Giorgi Gakharia welcomed the two countries’ delegations. Then the two prime ministers had private talks.
In his speech, Giorgi Gakharia noted: “Mr. Prime Minister, dear Nikol, I am glad for the opportunity to host you in Georgia. Our governments are working on a daily basis to deepen our good-neighborly relations. I concur with your view that high-level contacts facilitate effective interaction between government departments. I have kept warm recollections of our Yerevan meeting: it was quite effective. I am confident that today’s meeting will serve as a good basis for deepening relations between the two nations.”
Giorgi Gakharia noted that Armenia and Georgia find themselves in a complicated region, and both countries understand that regional stability is the key to sustained development. “We must first of all think of peace, and then talk about political, economic and cultural issues,” the Georgian Premier said.
Giorgi Gakharia expressed confidence that today’s meetings would give the opportunity to discuss all issues of mutual interest. The Prime Minister of Georgia thanked Nikol Pashinyan for the warm welcome in Yerevan and accepting the invitation to pay an official visit to his country.
In turn, Nikol Pashinyan thanked his Georgian counterpart for the invitation and for a warm welcome: “Dear Mr. Prime Minister, dear Giorgi, the importance of our bilateral relations cannot be overestimated. Our peoples are bound by deep-rooted cultural, political and historical ties. We have lived side by side for thousands of years, and the time has come to think of regional development at least for a couple of centuries. What I am saying is not just beautiful language, because our perception of bilateral relations with Georgia is of strategic nature. Our cooperation covers a broader range of aspects, but we mean a completely different dimension of regional interaction. Another factor in strengthening the Armenian-Georgian relations is the shared commitment to democratic values. This is another major cornerstone,” Nikol Pashinyan pointed out.
The Prime Minister stressed that both countries were able to impart new quality to Armenian-Georgian cooperation over the past one and a half years, and expressed confidence that his visit would help upgrade the ongoing cooperation. Nikol Pashinyan noted that the two governments are implementing the standing agreements with targeted steps.
Then the talks were continued in an expanded format. Prime Minister Pashinyan emphasized that there is huge untapped potential in the Armenian-Georgian relations, and its full development is an important part of the bilateral agenda. According to the head of the Armenian government, the two governments are now better poised to upgrade their economic interaction.
“Democracy is important in this regard. Our countries’ investment attractiveness will increase should Armenia and Georgia come to be perceived as democratic nations. We respect Georgia’s drive for Euro-Atlantic integration. It turns out that our countries have different views on security systems, but I think we have a common view of our security. Armenia cannot be a threat to Georgia’s security, and Georgia cannot be a threat to Armenia,” Nikol Pashinyan underscored, adding that during his visit to Georgia half a month after assuming the office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, he proposed this very formula as a basis for bilateral relations.
“We welcome Georgia’s position, which states that conflicts should be resolved peacefully. Conflicts in the world and in our region are different in terms of their content, origin, history and depth. If we had a single formula for settling conflicts, then they would have already been resolved. We consider each conflict in the totality of its features. In this regard, I am glad that we can constructively cooperate with Georgia. The fact that we are a member of the EAEU, and Georgia has signed a free trade agreement with the EU, creates new opportunities for the furtherance of cooperation,” Nikol Pashinyan said.
The parties discussed a number of issues high on the bilateral agenda. They highlighted the steps aimed at expanding trade and economic cooperation and, in this context, considered it necessary to implement measures that could help deepen business ties.
Nikol Pashinyan and Giorgi Gakharia next referred to the implementation of promising projects in the transport, energy and other sectors, stressing the importance of developing the transit potential of the two countries in terms of inland infrastructures, electricity and telecommunications. The interlocutors exchanged views on cooperation in high technology, education and science.
Issues of regional importance were explored during the meeting. Nikol Pashinyan and Giorgi Gakharia stressed the need to settle conflicts exclusively through peaceful means.
* * *
Following their private meeting, the Prime Ministers of Armenia and Georgia summed up the talks in a joint statement for media representatives.
Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia:
“Greetings to the Prime Minister of Armenia. It is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to host you in Tbilisi, in Georgia. As you may know, the friendly relations between our countries go far back in history, and we must work every day to make our cooperation even more effective.
Mr. Prime Minister, first of all, I would like to thank you for the warm welcome we enjoyed during my visit to Yerevan. I am confident that today’s visit will prove even more effective in terms of making the citizens of our countries more developed in both economic and security terms.
Today, we talked about the furtherance of our good neighborly and friendly relations. We touched upon security, culture, education, economy and outlined plans to upgrade the bilateral relations.
The Georgian side highlighted the democratization process in our region as a means to promote economic and cultural exchanges. We noted that the decision to join the Euro-Atlantic alliance was made by Georgian citizens, and we will abide by that policy line. Despite our countries’ different foreign policy orientations, we agreed that there can be no other plane on this issue, and emphasized that democracy will raise the effectiveness of cooperation in terms of trade turnover, transit routes, culture, etc.
We welcome Georgia’s active involvement in the Eastern Partnership and believe that this is the direction in which our countries should cooperate effectively.
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you again for your visit. Welcome to Tbilisi, and I am sure that we will effectively use these two days in the best interest of our citizens.”
Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan:
“Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Dear media representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of all members of the Armenian delegation and on my own behalf, I wish to thank Prime Minister Gakharia for the invitation and a warm welcome. I am happy about this opportunity to meet with friends.
I have repeatedly stated that the development of relationship with Georgia is a key foreign policy priority for Armenia. I am more than convinced that there are all necessary prerequisites for this. Indeed, dating back to centuries and underpinned by shared values and a common heritage, our friendship provides a solid groundwork for interaction.
I am pleased to note that new factors have emerged that make our friendship tighter and strengthen our drive for cooperation. First of all, I mean our two peoples’ common vision about the future based on irreversible democratic values, which has become our credo.
Indeed, the triumph of democracy and the establishment of the rule of law have opened up new horizons for closer and multifaceted cooperation between our two countries.
Today’s negotiations followed up the discussions launched in Yerevan last October. We stated with satisfaction that the Armenian-Georgian intergovernmental commission met in Yerevan last June after a long break.
We touched on the need for the consistent implementation of promising projects in the transport, energy sectors and other fields. The importance of developing our transit potential was emphasized on either side. We addressed not only the road network, but also electricity and telecommunications.
We came up with a set of cooperation proposals related to high technology, education and science. The importance of strengthening ties between youth was emphasized. Also, we agreed to take steps to strengthen ties between civil society organizations.
We next touched on regional security and peace. Undoubtedly, the Armenian-Georgian partnership is a key pledge for stability in our region. Coming to regional concerns, I want to express my conviction that the only way to resolve them goes through dialogue and talks. I am also convinced that each conflict has its own peculiarities, and in this regard, I suggest abiding by a balanced position on sensitive issues.
In the context of Armenian-Georgian brotherly relations, I would like to highlight the significant contribution that the Armenians have made in Georgia. We are grateful for the consistent steps taken by Georgian authorities in a bid to safeguard the national identity, cultural and spiritual heritage of Georgia-based Armenians.
Wrapping up my remarks, I would like to reiterate the importance of reciprocated high-level contacts and once again thank my Georgian counterpart for granting my delegation a top-level welcome.”
In conclusion, noting that Mother’s Day was being celebrated in Georgia, Nikol Pashinyan congratulated all Georgian mothers on the occasion.
* * *
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s official visit to Georgia continues. The Premier was hosted by President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili in Tbilisi.
Welcoming the Prime Minister of Armenia, the Georgian President highly valued the friendly relations between the two countries. She voiced confidence that today’s talks would give fresh impetus to the furtherance and strengthening of bilateral ties.
Nikol Pashinyan said he was happy to meet with Mrs. Zurabishvili during his official visit in Georgia to discuss the prospects of bilateral relations. “It is my pleasure to once again meet with you. I can state that the Armenian-Georgian relations have seen positive development since our first meeting,” the Premier said, convinced that new opportunities for the development of interstate cooperation might be identified during the visit.
Nikol Pashinyan and Salome Zurabishvili went over several issues on the bilateral agenda. The talks continued during an official luncheon.
* * *
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today was hosted by Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness Ilia II. Welcoming the Prime Minister of Armenia, Georgia’s spiritual leader voiced his confidence that Nikol Pashinyan’s official visit would help develop the Armenian-Georgian ties.
“We are living in difficult times, but we should defy the challenges together. I hope that the brotherly relations between our churches may promote closer contacts and cooperation between the two peoples,” the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia said.
Thankful for the warm welcome, Prime Minister Pashinyan noted that he first met with His Holiness Ilia II in June, 2018, and he cherished warm memories of that first meeting. “Our relations have seen many positive changes ever since; we managed to build a solid groundwork for continued cooperation,” the Premier said, adding that the two peoples’ commitment to Christian values can play a significant role in promoting the political dialogue.
“You have made a valuable contribution to this process, and I wish to thank you for that,” Nikol Pashinyan said, adding that the two governments’ task is to bring about real changes through close interaction and further strengthen the ongoing partnership in different spheres.
“We are prepared to endeavor towards achieving not only short-term, but also long-term objectives,” Nikol Pashinyan concluded.
Prior to meeting with the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Nikol Pashinyan had laid a wreath at the memorial on Heroes Square in Tbilisi.
* * *
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today met with Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze on the sidelines of his official visit to Georgia.
Appreciating the ongoing cooperation between the Armenian and Georgian governments and parliaments, Mr. Talakvadze emphasized that Prime Minister Pashinyan’s visit will help strengthen and expand ties between the two nations. He highly valued the partnership between the Armenian and Georgian parliamentarians on both bilateral and international platforms.
The Speaker of Georgian Parliament highlighted the role played by Georgian Armenians in his country’s development. In this connection, he noted that the Armenian community serves as a bridge for boosting interstate cooperation.
In turn, Nikol Pashinyan said the inter-parliamentary dialogue is of special importance in interstate relations. He appreciated the ongoing close interaction between lawmakers as they can go a long way toward strengthening the bonds of friendship between Armenia and Georgia.
Nikol Pashinyan and Archil Talakvadze agreed that intensive dialogue can open up new opportunities for joint programs and projects.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Pashinyan signed the Georgian Parliament’s Honorary Guest Book.
* * *
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Armenian community representatives at the Shota Rustaveli Theater in Tbilisi. The meeting was attended by numerous representatives of the Armenian community not only from Tbilisi, but also from Samtskhe-Javakheti.
Welcoming those present, Nikol Pashinyan reminded that he made his first foreign visit to Georgia after taking office as prime minister. “I have kept fond recollections of our meeting in the courtyard of the Armenian Church in Tbilisi. The meeting in Samtskhe-Javakheti was also unforgettable. During that visit, I suggested building our relationships according to a new formula: Georgia and the Georgian people should be confident that Armenia and the Armenian people will never participate in any anti-Georgian conspiracy, have no negative attitude towards Georgia and the Georgian people. On the contrary, we are keen to see a well-developed and stable country. According to this formula, Armenia and the Armenian people should be sure that Georgia and the Georgian people will never be involved in any anti-Armenian conspiracy, and on the contrary, they are interested to see that the Republic of Armenia is a developed country,” the Prime Minister said.
According to Nikol Pashinyan, over the past year and a half, the Armenian-Georgian relations stemmed from this very formula. The Prime Minister emphasized that the atmosphere between the two countries is exceptionally good, and, according to Nikol Pashinyan, our bilateral relations have never been better than now.
“This creates new opportunities for Armenia and Georgia. Our next proposal is that we should consider our relations from the perspective of centuries in a way to have a common understanding, since we have lived side by side in this region for millennia,” the Prime Minister said, noting that one can hardly find such neighboring nations that boast a thousand-year history and no hostilities. The Premier underscored that this is an important factor which needs emphasizing. Nikol Pashinyan noted that the two peoples have faced numerous challenges throughout history and were forced to confront them together, so it would be good if the two states considered their future from this point of view.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister especially welcomed the Armenians of Tbilisi. “Many giants of our culture and identity were born and used to live in Tbilisi. It is difficult to say what our identity would be like, if it were not for the great cultural heritage generated in Tbilisi. In general, our modern identity has three pillars, large cultural pillars - Tumanyan, Tamanyan and Komitas. I think that Tumanyan, in fact, is the most vivid example of the Armenian genius in Georgia, which reflects the importance of Tbilisi-domiciled Armenians for our people,” Nikol Pashinyan said.
The Prime Minister once again thanked the Georgian authorities for their thoughtfulness of the Armenian heritage on Georgia. According to Nikol Pashinyan, this is another key factor behind modern Armenian-Georgian relations. “We are united by Christianity and the Christian heritage. We must do everything possible to ensure that our relations have a strategic content,” the Prime Minister said.
Nikol Pashinyan emphasized that one of the most important features of our current activity should be that today we are creating a future in which our generations will live fifty, one hundred years later.
“From now on, the Armenian statehood must exist on planet Earth forever; we should rule out the emergence of any such power as may put an end to the history of Armenian statehood. Armenia is not only the birthplace of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, but also that of all Armenians, regardless of their citizenship. We are eager to see that the Georgian Armenians are full-fledged responsible citizens of Georgia, since this is one of the most important prerequisites for the normal development of our relations. We also believe that the attitude of Armenia towards those living outside of Armenia, and vice versa, should change; it should be more constructive, more strategic. That is why we have placed the idea of pan-Armenianism at the heart of our policy. The all-Armenian potential can guarantee the existence of an independent and powerful Armenian state. We, the Armenians, have the potential to take control of our fate. We need to have as many friends in the world as possible and do everything to bring our friends closer to us. Therefore, the main task in building the Armenian-Georgian relations is to make them more reliable just as between strategic partners. And I assure you that we are confidently following this path,” Prime Minister Pashinyan said.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister and the members of his delegation answered the questions of interest to Georgian Armenians, which bore on bilateral relations, repatriation, economy, the new government’s personnel policy, as well as on the anti-corruption campaign and other issues of topical interest.