PM Pashinyan's speech at the session of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation between Armenia and Georgia
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered remarks during the 11th sitting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia. The Prime Minister touched upon the cooperation between the two countries in various spheres, as well as regional processes.
Prime Minister Pashinyan, in particular, said,
“Honorable Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad for the opportunity to discuss the issues and programs on the agenda of cooperation between our countries.
First of all, let me state that the further development and deepening of relations with Georgia is among the important priorities of our country's foreign policy. I am more than convinced that there are all the prerequisites for that.
There is no doubt that the friendship coming from the depths of the centuries, which is anchored on common values and historical heritage, creates a solid foundation and fertile ground for our further cooperation.
However, I have to state that in the recent years the pandemic has created the most difficult challenges for the whole world, and the Armenian-Georgian trade and economic relations are no exception. In addition to the pandemic, additional complications have been created for the Armenian economy - the latest developments in our region, the war. However, our cooperation has not stopped, we have continued to work towards the implementation of the agreements enshrined in the minutes of the 10th sitting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia.
The current level of Armenian-Georgian trade and economic relations does not reflect the potential of the two countries. It is obvious that in this respect the bilateral cooperation has not yet reached the desired level, there is a need to expand it. There are opportunities to expand cooperation in industry, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, information technologies and communications, transport, energy, tourism and and other areas. In this regard, this session of the Intergovernmental Commission should become a platform for discussing opportunities to further expand bilateral cooperation in various directions of economic relations. Within the framework of the session, I hope we will also outline concrete steps to achieve our goals.
Transport infrastructure and logistics are of key importance for the development of trade and economic relations.
Bilateral cooperation between Armenia and Georgia in the transport sphere is a priority for us. We cooperate within the framework of a number of international transport structures, attaching great importance to the implementation of the Persian Gulf-Black Sea international transport route and other initiatives in the field of transport. It is worth mentioning that the route connecting the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea can really boost regional cooperation. By the way, I would like to mention an important circumstance that Prime Minister Garibashvili stressed that we consider the relations with Georgia not only in the bilateral dimension, but also in the context of regional cooperation. This is very important in the context of our relations. Yes, Armenia and Georgia have a serious field of cooperation, and we can provide mutual assistance to each other.
By the way, talking about the Persian Gulf- Black Sea route, I want to emphasize that there are two projects here: road and rail routes. For the development of the road route, we are implementing the construction of the North-South road, which connects the Armenian-Georgian border with the Armenian-Iranian border. We are in active discussions with our Iranian and Georgian partners for the most effective operation of the road, and it is very important that we reach a full understanding here. By the way, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that if we manage to reach an agreement with Azerbaijan on Armenia-Azerbaijan road communication, this project will significantly transform, becoming the North-South, East-West route.
In this regard, I would like to inform you that based on the results of the meetings mediated by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in Sochi on November 26 and the President of the European Council Charles Michel in Brussels on December 14, an opportunity has emerged to reach an agreement with Azerbaijan on the resumption of road communication. And we have already reached a solid agreement with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on the resumption of railway communication. I am talking about the restoration of the Yeraskh-Julfa-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz railway, and we hope to complete that work during the next 2-3 years. Of course, we must work so that our agreements are clearly recorded.
I also want to honestly say that some experts express opinion that this project may not be beneficial for Georgia, I mean the opening of the railway communication. I must strongly disagree with that position, because if the Armenia-Nakhichevan- Islamic Republic of Iran railway is opened through Julfa, we will have the most efficient and optimal railway communication between the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea, and that railway will pass through the territories of Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, becoming a key factor not only for economic development, but also for regional security.
Continuing the topic of transport communication, I must note with satisfaction that this year the regular direct flights and passenger transportation between Armenia and Georgia have increased, the cargo transportation has also increased. We will continue to make additional efforts in these directions to ensure further sustainable growth. In this context, I would like to once again emphasize the opportunities of expanding the railway transport cooperation and the further growth of passenger and cargo transportation by this route.
Armenia and Georgia have extensive experience in energy cooperation. Georgia, as a transit country, has a great role in terms of reliable and secure supply of energy resources to Armenia.
I would like to inform you that the Armenian side is ready to support the development and signing of all technical annexes to the current construction agreement on the Armenia-Georgia high-voltage power transmission line, as well as the start of construction of new networks and the HVDC converter station in the north of Armenia.
Our countries have great potential to expand cooperation in the fields of digitalization, telecommunications, high technology, cyber security, postal services and startups. We offer our Georgian partners to examine the opportunities of opening a branch of "TUMO" Center for Creative Technologies in Georgia.
Speaking about cooperation in the field of healthcare, I must mention that Armenia and Georgia have been actively cooperating since the beginning of the pandemic. Due to the exchange of experience, we managed to carry out a number of joint preventive actions. I think that in this area it is necessary to continue to develop the partnership between the two countries' emergency management systems in the field of healthcare and cross-border cooperation, as well as the provision of mutual assistance in emergency medical cases.
I am pleased to note that active contacts in the fields of education and science are entering a practical phase. Based on the proposal of the Georgian side, the Armenian side has already begun to carry out relevant work, which will facilitate the inclusion of teachers teaching Armenian language and literature in Georgian secondary schools in the certification process, which aims to improve the qualification of specialists. In turn, we will consider the possibility of implementing joint Georgian language programs in Armenia, expecting the support of Georgian partners in this issue. We are interested in increasing the scope and volume of Georgian language teaching in Armenia, we think that it will be a very logical continuation of our relations if we achieve concrete results in this area.
At the same time, I would like to emphasize the importance of developing opportunities for the implementation of joint educational and research programs in the field of education, particularly in the field of higher education, both in bilateral and international cooperation formats. I hope that we will be able to cooperate effectively on the maintenance and development of the physical infrastructure of public schools teaching in Armenian. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that it is very important for us that the Armenians of Georgia fully master the Georgian language, as our perception is that the Armenian community of Georgia must continue to remain a factor contributing to stability, unity and solidarity in Georgia. The stability and development of Georgia is more than important for us.
It is important for our countries to expand cooperation in the field of culture, as our peoples can present rich cultural heritage and potential to each other, while cooperation in the humanitarian field is particularly important for ensuring the continuity of friendly traditions between the two peoples. At the same time, I am convinced that we need to develop a qualitatively new agenda for Armenian-Georgian cultural relations, that is, to shift from a purely participatory framework to the field of joint cultural initiatives, including the joint applications for cooperation with international organizations. I am glad that there is already an active dialogue in this direction.
Speaking about cultural cooperation, I would like to thank our Georgian colleagues for the renovation of the new building of the Petros Adamian State Armenian Drama Theater in Tbilisi, as well as for the continuous support to the troupe.
Considering the already signed "Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Government of Georgia on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism", the structures responsible for tourism development of the two countries should continue their efforts to ensure effective cooperation, in particular, through developing joint packages by travel agencies. In this context, we offer our Georgian partners to develop an action plan to strengthen the Armenian-Georgian cooperation in the field of tourism. This idea is not new, we have talked, we should encourage our tourism organizations to introduce joint packages to the market, that is, the direction should not be Armenia or Georgia, but the direction should be Armenia-Georgia, Georgia-Armenia at once. With a record high in 2019, our experience showed that this type of cooperation is very effective, can bring results.
In order to further develop cooperation in the field of sports and youth, it is necessary to intensify the organization of joint training camps for national teams of different sports, joint trainings in Armenia and Georgia, and seminars for sport doctors and coaches.
Decentralized cooperation between the regions of Armenia and Georgia also has great opportunities for development. In this context, the possibility of further involvement in various cross-border cooperation programs funded by international organizations should also be considered.
Mr. Prime Minister, if you are not against the idea, I think, for example, that at the level of the heads of our border regions, we can also create an opportunity for some cooperation, trying to ensure the development of our relations at all levels.
I also see great potential in the field of ecology, given that global environmental challenges are transnational in nature. Addressing them requires expanding international cooperation, joining efforts at the global and regional levels.
Concluding my speech, I would like to thank all the participants of the session of the Intergovernmental Commission for making the session a reality and for the effective work. I am convinced that the agreements reached based on the results of the session will give a new impetus to our bilateral cooperation in all possible directions.