Georgian Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli, who is paying a two-day official visit to Yerevan, met Armenian leadership on February 1 and reiterated Tbilisi’s position that Georgia wants to contribute to peace and security in the region.
“We are open for cooperation and we have stated for multiple times that Georgia’s goal is to be part of the peace in the region and we are ready to contribute in this regard, and offer our service and support to everyone who seeks peace in the South Caucasus,” Khidasheli said after meeting her Armenian counterpart Seyran Ohanyan.
“We spoke about deepening of our cooperation and about projects that have been ongoing between us for years already, as well as use of our [Georgia’s] educational centers by more [Armenian] army service members if there is such desire from Armenia,” said Khidasheli, for whom it is the first visit to Armenia in her capacity of the Defense Minister.
A bilateral annual defense cooperation program was signed, envisaging exchange of experience in peacekeeping operations, military education, training and strategic planning, according to the Armenian Defense Ministry.
The Georgian Defense Minister also met President Serzh Sargsyan; PM Hovik Abrahamyan and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
President Sargsyan noted “importance of traditionally partnership relationship between Armenia and Georgia, as well as balanced approach in terms of regional security and peace,” the Armenian President’s office said.
Khidasheli said after the meeting with the Armenian President without elaborating details: “As of today we have several issues in our relations, in the defense sphere, which required to be solved; we focused mostly on these issues in talks with the President.”
She also reiterated that Georgia wants to contribute to peace in the region and “in this regard we are ready to cooperate in any format and in any direction if it helps peace in the region.”
“Any kind of destabilization – be it in respect of Nagorno-Karabakh or something else, will be a problem for Georgia of the same scale as for those countries directly involved,” the Georgian Defense Minister said.
Armenian PM said, according to his office, that cooperation in defense is a “necessity” in the light of “difficult geopolitical situation.” He said that this cooperation will contribute to peace and security in the region.
Khidasheli’s visit to Armenia comes less than two months after she participated in a third trilateral meeting of defense ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, which was held in Istanbul on December 17. This trilateral format was launched in August, 2014. A month after the first meeting within this format, then Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania also visited Armenia in September, 2014.
Asked about Georgia’s cooperation with Turkey and Azerbaijan, Khidasheli told journalists at a news conference after meeting with her Armenian counterpart that Azerbaijan and Turkey are Georgia’s strategic partners and the fact that Turkey is a NATO member further strengthens and deepens this partnership; she also added that Tbilisi is grateful for all the support Turkey is providing to Georgia.
Also on February 1 the Georgian Defense Minister met head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II. She will meet speaker of the Armenian parliament Galust Sahakyan on February 2.