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Armenia and Georgia reach mutually beneficial understanding

Thursday, October 2
As is known, the Russian aggression against Georgia also created problems for Armenia. Firstly, it created delays in the import and export of goods via Georgia, resulting in losses Yerevan estimates to be of more than USD 0.5 billion. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, Moscow put serious pressure on its strategic partner in the South Caucasus to recognize the results of the aggression, its occupation of Georgian territory and the effective annexation of two Georgian regions. Luckily for both Tbilisi and Yerevan, the latter did not take this anti-Georgian step.

Armenia took the wise decision not recognize the separatists regions of Georgia as independent despite Kremlin pressure. The temptation was there. Recognising them could have led to the recognition of Karabakh independence as well. But Yerevan understood that it would have been standing with only Russia and Nicaragua against the rest of the world. Armenia also stood to lose its transit routes through Georgia and therefore almost two thirds of its export income. Finding alternative routes could have been rather difficult and was too risky a step for Armenia to contemplate taking. Maybe this factor also convinced Moscow that it could not gain anything by further arm twisting.

The Russian leadership hoped that its occupation of Georgian territories would provoke an anti-Georgian uprising by the ethnic Armenian population in the south of Georgia. Its wicked plans were frustrated by wise politics of the Armenian leadership. Russia’s miscalculation was thrown into relief by the recent visit of Armenian President Serzh Sargsian to Tbilisi, which gave vivid confirmation of the good neighbourly relations between the two countries. Georgia and Armenia decided during this visit not to create problems for each other and be even more cooperative. During his meeting with his Armenian counterpart President Saakashvili of Georgia expressed his utmost gratitude: “The Georgian people will not forget who supported them and how,” he said.

Moscow can still try and aggravate the situation in the Causcasus if the Armenia-Turkey border opens, a move which could direct a good part of Armenia’s export transit through Turkey rather than Georgia. The Kremlin is presently trying to undermine and discredit Georgia’s existing transit function through direct threats to its pipelines and by suggesting alternative routes. For example, it has suggested that Armenia replace Georgia as a partner in the NABUCCO project. But despite different foreign policy priorities Tbilisi and Yerevan have agreed to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in different directions. One co-operative project could be the building of a highway connecting Armenia to Adjara through Samtskhe –Javakheti, something long talked about which might finally be realised after the Armenian President’s visit to Georgia.

The two leaders have decided to further deepen their relations for the benefit of both their countries and the region as a whole. It is reasonable to assume that their positive co-operation will produce exactly that.