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A visit with mutual grievances2009-02-24 09:50
The website of the Georgian Foreign Ministry reports that in the course of his official visit, Grigol Vashadze plans to meet with the president, prime minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker of Armenia. The guest from Tbilisi will also visit the Museum and Memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide of 1915.
Diplomatic relations between Georgia and Armenia appear to be very friendly. At the start of December 2008, as GeorgiaTimes has already reported, the prime ministers of the two countries met in Tbilisi. As the head of the Georgian government Grigol Mlagoblishvili declared regarding the results of the meetings, the conversation was open and interesting. In turn Tigran Sargsyan stressed: "The task confronting our government is to develop and deepen relations between the two nations. Between us there are no issues which can't be resolved." According to Sargsyan, relations with Georgia occupy a high priority for Armenia.
This meeting between the two prime ministers was preceded by dialogue at the highest level. It was then that the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, assured Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi of his support for Georgia's territorial integrity. The host of the meeting strongly appreciated this position: "Armenia unequivocally, like practically all the countries in the world, expressed its support for Georgia's unity and a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in our country. I am sure that our government, and also our people, will remember our unity on these issues." The outcome of the autumn meeting was that the two parties agreed to a simplified crossing at the Georgian-Armenian border and the creation of a consortium which would be in charge of the construction of a new road between the two countries.
Incidentally, Saakashvili was insistently persuading Sargsyan of the benevolent attitude towards Armenians in Georgia. "We do not divide up our citizens on the grounds of their ethnic background, but at the same time," continued Saakashvili, "we respect their culture and their origins. It is an integral part of Georgia's identity," news agencies quoted him as saying.
But a month and a half after this meeting, an incident occurred involving the defilement of graves belonging to Armenian figures in Tbilisi. The removal of some gravestones at the instructions of a Georgian priest was so scandalous that the Supreme Council of the Armenian Apostolic Church sent a note of protest to the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The good-neighbourly relations between Georgia and Armenia could then have been jeopardized by rumours spread by the Azerbaijani media. They reported that the Armenian armed forces were being strengthened with the help of military technology acquired from the Russian base in Gyumri. The Russian and Armenian defence ministries denied these reports. However, sources in the Majlis promised the Interfax-Azerbaijan news agency that the Azerbaijani delegation would nevertheless be raising the question of the transfer of weapons at the winter session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which is being held from 17th to 21st February.
Azerbaijani media publications were especially scathing after Armenia joined the Collective Rapid Response Forces (CRRF) treaty established at Moscow's initiative within the framework of the CSTO. Baku, which like Georgia is orientated towards cooperation with NATO, has remained outside this organization.