YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili on Wednesday began her two-day visit to Armenia to meet with the neighboring country’s political leadership, including her counterpart Armen Sarkissian.
The two presidents met for talks in the Presidential Palace in Yerevan in the afternoon following a reception ceremony.
President Sarkissian told his Georgian counterpart that “the Armenian and Georgian peoples have a centuries-old history of friendship, which will surely continue in future generations.”
In his words, Armenian-Georgian cooperation in all spheres – from culture to science and modern technologies – has a huge potential for development and “everything needs to be done to make this cooperation deeper and more profitable.”
The official website of the Armenian president quoted the newly elected Georgian leader as noting that Sarkissian was the only president who attended her inauguration in December.
“It was a great honor for me. It was a sign of friendship between our two countries, which our society and I personally highly appreciate,” said Zourabichvili.
The president of Georgia said that the two nations “have a long way to go together, and it depends on them how they use the great potential in the region.”
Zourabichvili said that the two countries are united not only by geography, but also by the ethnic Armenian population of Georgia.
Armenia and Georgia are unanimous in their opinion that conflicts in the region have different natures and the grounds for their settlement are not identical, Sarkisian said following his talks.
“In my personal opinion, solutions [to conflicts] should be sought solely by peaceful means, on the basis of international law and norms and in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh [it should be] on the basis of respect for the right of self-determination,” Sarkissian stressed during the two presidents’ statements for the press.
Last month the Georgian president was on an official visit to Baku where during her meeting with President Ilham Aliyev she said that Azerbaijan and Georgia had gone through the same problems.
“Today, we know what occupation means for a country and what it is when your territorial integrity is not restored yet. Lines of contact with occupied lands are open wounds that hinder our development. Nevertheless, despite these tragedies, we have managed to strengthen and develop our economies,” Zourabichvili said in Baku, implying the conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
While in Yerevan, Zourabichvili said that for Georgia, a country that hosts sizable Armenian and Azerbaijani communities, it is important that the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh should not be shifted onto its territory.
“It is very important for us that Georgian citizens of Armenian and Azerbaijani descents live in peace and be integrated into the political, economic and cultural life of Georgia,” she said.
According to Zourabichvili, as president of Georgia she is obliged to do more to make it easier for Georgia’s ethnic Armenian citizens to learn the Georgian language.
She emphasized that Armenia and Georgia are not only neighbors, but also friendly nations. “We live in a region for which stability and peace are crucial. These are mandatory preconditions for the economic development of our two countries,” Zourabichvili said.
Speaking about regional conflicts, the Georgian president said that they should be settled peacefully and on the basis of norms of international law.
For his part, President Sarkissian underscored the atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust that he said is characteristic of Armenian-Georgian relations. He said he was pleased to accept Zourabichvili’s invitation to visit Georgia.
Before her meeting with President Sarkissian, at whose invitation she is visiting Armenia, the Georgian president visited the hilltop memorial to 1915 Armenian Genocide victims at Dzidzernagapert, accompanied by Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan and Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutyan.
Zourabichvili also met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on March 13.
During the meeting Pashinyan stressed that at present there is a “historic opportunity” for raising Armenian-Georgian relations at a new level. Pashinyan reminded that as prime minister he paid his first international visit to Georgia, which, he said, shows how great importance Armenia attaches to developing relations with its neighbor.
For her part, Zourabichvili stressed that Armenia and Georgia have a lot in common geographically and historically, share a common vision for the future and have a lot to do together.