Saakashvili Promotes "United Caucasus" Concept to Sargsyan in Tbilisi
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, November 30
After misunderstandings regarding Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s visit to Georgia,he finally paid an official visit on November 29. On the first day of his arrival, he met with Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili, and they talked about the two countries' relations and future perspectives. During the meeting Saakashvili revealed that the concept of a "United Caucasus" is still very real for him and in the frame of deepening relations border crossing rules between Georgia and Armenia would be simplified.
As the Georgian president mentioned, Georgian–Armenian relations have never been so positive as now, and such successful relations and collaboration are based on “personal merit.” One of the main messages delivered by Saakashvili was the issue of a United Caucasus. “Our concept is of course based on the United Caucasus concept. I am sure that all the conflicts in the Caucasus are imposed by an imperial force whose major principle is divide and rule,” Saakashvili said.
He has also mentioned that it is in the interests of all the peoples and states of the Caucasus to have a united Caucasus, a united economic space of the Caucasus and even a united political commonwealth in prospect. Saakashvili maintains that the idea will come true. ”It will definitely be implemented. There is no alternative for our people, for our small countries,” added Saakashvili. “I am sure the conflicts, which were artificially imposed on our countries, will be resolved sooner or later – I think much sooner than anyone can imagine. We will manage to find a more common language and to integrate into the European space faster, if there is less interference from outside.”
At the same time, Saakashvili believes that very soon the Georgian–Armenian border would be as transparent “as the one of Switzerland–France“. As Saakashvili mentioned, citizens of the two states would be checked at only one checkpoint, only one time and without getting out of their cars.
The Armenian president did not comment on the idea of a United Caucasus, however he highlighted the importance of the two states friendly relations. ”Our visits are the confirmation of the high-level relations between our countries and these relations have particularly intensified this year. I agree with the president that the cooperation should be enhanced in the spheres of economics, defense and security. We work in various areas, including the energy sector. Our goal is to provide proper security for the Armenian and Georgian nations," the Armenian president announced.
He also mentioned that there were “two or three very important issues between the states, which progressed this year,” and Sargysian thanked Saakashvili for this. However, he did not specify which those three issues are.
Four new memorandums on collaboration between different state structures have been signed between the states after the first day of the visit.
It was not the first time that Saakashvili has mentioned the United Caucasus idea. It has already got different responses in the Georgian political field. The government assess the president’s initiative “as strategically extremely important," whereas the opposition called it unrealistic.
As analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger, Georgian–Armenian relations are “predestined” for friendly contact. As he believes, this is due to problems in the Caucasus region and growing interest towards the region from the states of Europe and the US. As the analyst mentioned, Georgia should be extremely provident towards relations between the neighboring states and should maintain neutrality. ”The Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict creates a negative influence on Georgian–Armenian relations. It's more than 20 years since Armenia and Georgia signed any international level document where the words territorial integrity were mentioned.” The analyst also stated that currently Georgia uses balancing politics rather than neutrality, trying to please both Armenia and Azerbaijan and forgets that, ”people hold a grudge longer than they do kindness.” Tsiskarishvili also expressed regret that unlike the European Union, the South Caucasus states do not have a strict neighborhood policy, based on a definite conception adopted on the needs of the states’ citizens. As for the idea of a United Caucasus, the analyst called it a “myth“ while there is a hostile attitude towards the idea within the Caucasus and further afield.