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Mishiko chokes Sargsyan with love25.01.2011 | 16:39
Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili's visit to Armenia was accompanied by incredible embarrassment. Before that Georgian PM Nika Gilauri publicly announced that his country is number one energy supplier to its neighbor state. Now Mishiko feels extraordinary love for the Armenian leader and wants to become closer. It is unknown what feelings Serge Sargsyan has for the man whose dominant party infringes upon rights of Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakhetia. But judging by this fact, Mikheil Nikolozovich will have to use all his metaphoric eloquence to convince his counterpart that the bright future is there for both states if they keep sticking together.
Well, lately relations between Yerevan and Tbilisi have been tense like an arrow. According to sociological surveys, Armenians consider Georgia as an unfriendly state like Turkey and Azerbaijan. It is easy to guess that rapprochement between Tbilisi and Baku is not the only reason: Georgia's national security doctrine says that Azerbaijan is a strategic ally while Armenia is viewed just as a pragmatic partner.
The situation in Samtskhe-Javakhetia and Georgia's economic indifference to Armenia are also alarming to Armenians. Georgian authorities repeatedly expressed their concern over Yerevan's non-judgmental attitude to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But it seems Mr. Saakashvili made simple calculations realizing that the neighbor's discontent must be much more intense than his own. That is why he decided to pay a visit to his Armenian colleague and try to settle down differences.
Our interlocutor Irakli Menagarishvili, director of Center for Strategic Studies admitted in his interview with GeorgiaTimes that Javakh remains a problem region but these problems are not an obstacle to expansion of Armenian-Georgian relations:
"There is a small political group that is entitled to raise such questions. But I wouldn't consider it a universal opinion of Georgia's Armenians. That is why I don't see any serious problems in Javakhetia. There are problems, but they are typical of all Georgia. As for recent steps it turns out that a new road has been built. Besides, a number of actions have been made to improve interaction between Javakhetia and the rest of Georgia. These steps must help solve the questions that have been there so far".
Nonetheless, Mishiko decided to make hay while the sun shines. Early in January he sent Christmas congratulations to Georgia's Armenians admitting that he approves of the deeds of the Armenian bishop in the territory of the Caucasian republic. "In reality, I have great respect for activities of your bishop Vazgen in spiritual support for your compatriots and development of relations between two ancient Christian nations - Georgia and Armenia", - the Georgian president stated.
The Georgian leader was particularly eloquent in Armenia. He was invited to the award ceremony of the 1st Armenian-Georgian school Olympiad winners where Mikheil Nikolozovich could not help himself: "We must compete for our countries to prosper. I am sure that the second Olympiad of this kind will be held in Georgia. Relations between our countries are very good, we must think of walking into the future hand in hand. With affection I emphasize that Armenian president Serge Sargsyan is my brother, a good friend and a colleague. Armenian and Georgian nations are clever, other world nations must take us for a model".
The president of Armenia, totally perplexed, referred to Saakashvili as to a model reminding of his doctor's degree and his presidential position. Probably, it was due to the Georgian leader's pressure and eloquence. Or maybe, partly it was the grudge Armenia bears against Russia after Russian FM Sergey Lavrov's meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davitoglu last week.
One thing is absolutely certain: Mikheil Saakashvili undertook this hurried trip to Yerevan seeking external support. No matter what role Georgia would want to assume in South Caucasus, it can't ignore Russia's presence in the region. But Moscow does not view the Georgian leader as an interlocutor, and Armenia as a supporter of Russia could mitigate Kremlin's detestation for official Tbilisi.
"Back to the visit, it was not at all bad confirming that the sides have common interests. Armenia needs stable Georgia and Georgia wants political stability in Armenia. I believe that bilateral cooperation is in line with the progress of the last few years. It is hard to say whether Armenia will play an active role in relieving tension between Russia and Georgia, though any positive step toward good-neighborhood improves general climate in the region. No doubt it will foster good changes in other directions too. But Georgian-Russian relationship is a separate topic and despite importance of external support and stimuli from the outside, it is most important at least to have internal readiness to start contacts if not find a common language", - Menagarishvili thinks.
Nonetheless, a representative of Javakh diaspora in Russia and a member of Coordination Council of organizations for rights protection of Javakhetia's Armenians, is friendly toward Georgian leaders despite discriminatory policies in the district.