Georgia regards Russian military presence in the South Caucasus as a threat to its security, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on Monday, confirming Tbilisi’s concerns over a new Russian-Armenian defense agreement signed recently.
Still, visiting Yerevan, he stopped short of publicly criticizing the Armenian government for deepening its military ties with Moscow and insisted that Armenia and Georgia are “finding understanding regarding each and every matter.”
“I would like to stress that Armenia is a sovereign nation and Armenia has the right to decide what kind of a security arrangement is good for this nation. Nobody doubts that,” Vashadze said after talks with his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian.
“But Georgia has the sovereign right to make comments about the presence of a Russian military base in the South Caucasus, notwithstanding whether that bases is present. We have five bases in Georgia and, trust me, it is a persistent threat to our security, independence and sovereignty,” he said, referring to Russian troops stationed in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“And when we are discussing the fate of the South Caucasus and its three independent states, it would be nice to remember 1921, when we, all three of us, lost independence during one year,” Vashadze added in reference to Armenia’s, and Azerbaijan’s and Georgia’s forced incorporation into the Soviet Union.
“I’ve been never making comments about Armenian security, stability, independence or sovereignty,” Vashadze told a joint news conference with Nalbandian. He said in that context that his statements are “sometimes not described quite accurately” by media.
Speaking in English, the Georgian minister also downplayed the differing geopolitical orientations of the two neighboring states, saying that Georgian-Armenian relations “have not been better than they are today.” “As close friends and neighboring countries, we will always have some issues to discuss, but we are trying not to transform those issues into problems,” he said. “I should say that we are finding understanding regarding each and every matter.”
Responding to questions about the condition of Armenians leaving in Georgia: “I do not know what Javakhk is, there is no such place on the Georgian map,” Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said at the joint press conference, referring to Armenian-populated Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia.
Vashadze said that there are 103 Armenian schools in Georgia, they are all equipped with computers, while the teachers had undergone trainings.
Speaking of educational problems of the Armenian-populated region, Georgian FM noted that schoolchildren will receive general education in Armenian language. Then, they will take an advanced course of Georgian language to get professional education. “It is necessary for Armenians and Georgians to have equal opportunities,” Vashadze concluded.

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