This is the opinion of Georgy Kanashvili, Executive Director of “Caucasian House” Research Center, who joined the discussion entitled “The visit of Georgian Foreign Minister to Yerevan: Observations on Armenian-Georgian Relations” via video call at Media Center on April 12.
Mikheil Janelidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia visited Yerevan on April 11-12 during which he held meetings with the leadership of Armenia discussing a variety of issues on the bilateral agenda. They were about the cargo via Georgia to Russia and vice versa, the Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Russia energy corridor development, as well as the ministers, highlighted the importance of creating Meghri free economic zone on the border with Iran and holding Days of Georgian Business in Armenia.
According to the official press release, during the meeting on April 11 the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Georgia agreed that such initiatives would be an efficient platform in terms of learning about the opportunities for access to markets in the third countries and making them more accessible.
Kanashvili said that Iran, of course, carries great significance for Georgia. “In this sense, Armenia is an important platform for Georgia to access the Iranian market. But I do not think that large investments from Georgia to Armenia could be possible even in the free economic zone as Georgia itself is in need of investment. These are the problems of our states. We also attract investors because if Georgia had money we would build a factory or a hotel with our own means rather than involving others. Although the implementation of joint projects in some sectors is possible but large investments are hardly possible,” he said.
Hrant Mikayelyan, the Caucasus Institute expert, recalled that a few days before the visit of the Georgian Foreign Minister it became known that the tariffs for the Armenian-Russian railway and ferry transportation through the territory of Georgia were reduced. The tariffs for railway and ferry transportation for Moscow-Yerevan direction has decreased by 32-35%, while in the case of Yerevan-Moscow direction up to 52-54%.
“This is the result of the latest Armenian-Georgian talks. The Armenian-Georgian relations have become quite active recently and the Iran factor has a great role here. Armenia can be said to have become a transit country for cargos to Iran. As a result, the volume of t transport cargos increased by 80% last year,” he said, adding that he does not have great expectations with regard to the possible flow of Georgian investments in the zone of the Meghri free economic zone.
Johnny Melikyan, Expert of Georgian Studies, said that though the Armenian-Georgian trade and economic relations have intensified they are very small compared to Georgia-Turkey or Georgia-Azerbaijan economic cooperation scales: “Last year Armenia invested about $ 5 million in Georgia while Azerbaijan invested about 500 million dollars in this country. It is clear that they are made mainly in energy and transport sectors but the volume of Armenian investments is tiny,” he said.
At the same time, the experts talked about the differences in the positions of Armenia and Georgia on problematic issues. As an example, he mentioned Armenia's position on the issue of Georgian refugees and vice versa, Georgia often supports the resolutions of Azerbaijan.
“Perhaps they try to keep the option of compromises. Hopefully, something will come of it,” Kanashvili said. Here Melikyan disagreed, saying that the resolution on Georgian refugees contained generalized wording about Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and contradicting the Armenian interests. “Armenian position is based on this. Armenia cannot vote against itself. On the other hand, when Saakashvili was in office, Armenia and Georgia had a gentleman's agreement not to oppose each other in international platforms. This trend was broken after Mikheil Saakashvili left office, and it has not recovered yet,” he said.
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Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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