Last week in Armenia was marked by international meetings. Catherine Ashton came to Yerevan, showing EU support for development of the South Caucasus. Furthermore, the Prime Minister of Armenia visited his Georgian counterpart in order to formulate rules of modernization concerning transborder cooperation.
In the South Caucasus, commentaries after the High Representative’s visit have not yet died away. During her visit, Catherine Ashton, meeting with Armenian politicians, relied a message that Armenia is to meet several conditions in order to gain visa liberalization and foster economic collaboration. Baroness Ashton raised the subject of developing the Eastern Partnership programme and solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. She was urging Armenian authorities to increase cooperation and aim to strengthen good relations in the region.
Last week also prime ministers of Georgia and Armenia met in Batumi. They headed a regular session of their countries’ economic intergovernmental commission. The long-awaited result of the debate is a future change of border traffic regulations concerning both states.
In a press announcement, Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri declared: “We have already implemented such a project on the Turkish-Georgian border at Sarpi [crossing point] and it has proved to be very effective … We want to do the same on the Armenian-Georgian border and, I hope, as soon as possible.” His Armenian counterpart Tigran Sargsyan endorsed facilitations regarding tourism and business traffic which he regards as practicable means for development of both countries’ economies and tourism industries: “…we want to introduce a new methodology of customs taxation and to view our customs posts as joint ones, which will make it more convenient for our citizens and businesses to cross the Armenian-Georgian border.”
The European Union is actively supporting the two states in their efforts towards improving quality of regional border crossings – it has invested 58 million EUR in modernization of three such points between Armenia and Georgia. Negotiations on border traffic facilitation have been rapidly intensified during this year. Georgia is the best-disposed country towards Armenia in the whole neighbourhood in fields such as politics and economy. With all other states, Armenia maintains at least tough relations due to historical and political occurrences. The collaboration between these two South-Caucasian states and their joint pursuit for the EU membership seem to be the only reasonable way out of political and economic impasse.
Watch the coverage of Catherine Ashton’s visit in Armenia: