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Armenia angry over Saakashvili’s remarks

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, March 13
President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian has placed the responsibility for “complicated relations” with Armenia on Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian media says, based on reports from the Armenian News Agency News Armenia. “Saakashvili cannot put up with Armenia having close relations with Moscow,” the Armenian agency quoted Sarkisian as saying.

The Armenian President’s statement comes after Saakashvili’s remarks on March 7 that “Armenia’s economy has been completely crushed, because Armenia has been totally dependant on the Russian market. The Russian market has collapsed and Armenia’s economy has collapsed too.” Soon after the Georgian President’s speech the Armenian media released a statement by Sarkisian’s Press Secretary Samvel Farmanian.

The Press Spokesperson of the Georgian President, Alana Gagloeva, has responded by saying that Saakashvili’s words were “misunderstood.” “Mikheil Saakashvili’s words were not meant to offend the Armenian Government. His speech was focused on specific events in the region. The devaluation of the Armenian national currency, in our opinion, has affected the Armenian economy generally. Saakashvili also said that the Georgian economy is more defended [from the effects of the global economic crisis] because Georgia does not have as high a volume trade and economic relations with Russia as Armenia. So the words of the Georgian President were not said to offend the Armenian Government,” Gagloeva stated.

The Georgian opposition slammed Saakashvili for the statement. The Chairperson of the Democratic Movement–United Georgia and former close ally of Saakashvili, Nino Burjanadze, said the Georgian President should not give himself the right to make “incorrect and radical” statements about the economic problems of other countries. “I am sorry that the President of Georgia made such an incorrect comment about neighbouring Armenia. Unfortunately it should be said that Saakashvili’s incorrectness is not news for us, however it is worse when it concerns statements addressed to neighbouring states rather than statements about internal politics,” Burjanadze noted.

The former Parliament Speaker said the Georgian Government should pay more attention to internal economic problems. “After the August war the country has got into a very difficult economic and political situation, and due to the incapacity of the Government the threat of the situation worsening is growing,” Burjanadze stated. She said the Georgian and Armenian people will be wise enough not to take any notice of such “unwise” statements.

On Thursday, at a meeting with Georgia’s Ambassador to Armenia Revaz Gachechiladze, who is concluding his diplomatic mission in the country, the Armenian President thanked him for his successful cooperation and said “political dialogue [between the countries] has been activated, economic relations have been broadened and cultural ties have become stronger.”