Tbilisi and Tehran have “firmly” decided to have bilateral cooperation, which will be good for the entire region, Georgian Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, said after meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Tbilisi on November 3.
Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, who started his two-day visit to Georgia on November 3, signed with his Georgian counterpart visa-free travel agreement between the two countries.
Mottaki will travel to Georgia’s Black Sea resort of Batumi on November 4 to formally open Iran’s consular office.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Georgian counterpart on Wednesday evening, Mottaki described his visit as “historic”, saying that reopening of Iran’s consular office in Batumi, about 80 years after it was closed down there, and signing of visa-free travel agreement were milestone events in the bilateral relations, which will help to boost economic cooperation and “traditional, histories” ties between the two people. The agreement on visa-free travel will go into force after it is ratified by the parliaments of the two countries.
“We had very constructive and fruitful negotiations… We have discussed bilateral relations, as well as regional and international issues,” Mottaki said.
“There is a decision to broaden our economic cooperation and if we look at statistics we will see, that these relations in various spheres have been doubled against previous years,” he said.
Mottaki said that close ties between Iran and Georgia would help “to link the Black Sea with the Persian Gulf”, which would be beneficial for the economies of the both countries.
“I want to stress, that both of the countries firmly believe, that there should be zero problems in relations between the neighboring countries. At the same time I want to note that Georgia-Iran economic relations made a big jump recently,” Grigol Vashadze, the Georgian Foreign Minister, said.
Iran is not in the list of Georgia’s key trading partners. Trade turnover between Georgia and Iran declined by 41.5% y/y in 2009 to USD 36.3 million. The figure reached USD 41.4 million in the first nine months of 2010, according to the Georgian state statistics office.
When asked about the political aspects of bilateral cooperation, the Georgian Foreign Minister responded: “Our firm decision is to have bilateral cooperation and this cooperation is good for Georgia, is good for Iran, is good for region, is good generally for political climate.”
The Iranian Foreign Minister said that developments in the Caucasus “are very important” for Tehran.
“Territorial integrity is one of the principles on which cooperation between the states should be based. We hope that problems in the region will be resolved through peaceful means,” Mottaki said.
“Iran has always been expressing its readiness to play its role in resolving regional problems,” he added.
The Georgian Foreign Minister said that he was “grateful to the Iranian people and the Iranian government for their position about Georgia’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity.”
On Iran’s nuclear program Vashadze said that Iran had a right to have a peaceful nuclear program, but it also had obligations.
“Iran is a member state of the non-proliferation treaty and has all legal rights to have a peaceful nuclear program and while having those rights there are obligations too for each and every member state when it comes to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] and under those procedures and norms all nuclear facilities, not only in this region, but elsewhere in the world should be under firm control of this Agency,” Vashadze said.
He said Tbilisi was “absolutely happy” about the proposed talks between P5-plus-1 and Iran, because “it will be good for Iran, for the international community, for IAEA and for this region too.”
P5-plus-1 refers to five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia, the U.S. – plus Germany.