YEREVAN — Chaired by Prime Ministers of Armenia and Georgia Nikol Pashinyan and Irakli Garibashvili, the regular session of the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation between Armenia and Georgia was held in Yerevan on Thursday.
The friendship of the Armenian and Georgian peoples based on common values, cultural and historical commonalities is the solid foundation of our active interaction and a reliable guarantee for the future, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at the start of the meeting.
The Prime Minister commended the level of intergovernmental relations between the two countries and added that the further expansion and deepening of relations with Georgia is one of the important priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy.
He added, however, that there is clear mutual understanding on the need to expand and deepen the economic relations to identify the untapped potential and make a more effective use of the existing opportunities.
“In that regard, a significant place in the agenda of today’s session of the intergovernmental commission is reserved for the promotion of mutual investments, strengthening of business ties, creation of more favorable conditions for small and medium businesses, interaction between the sectoral departments of the two countries and issues aimed at the development of joint economic programs,” he said.
“As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the economies of almost all countries suffered significant negative effects, and our countries were not spared, as a result of which the indicators of mutual trade decreased somewhat in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019. However, in January-November 2022, the volume of trade turnover, according to RA statistics, increased almost twice compared to 2021, amounting to 759 million USD. Here, the Georgian side has published a higher figure – 1 billion, and I am sure that you counted more correctly than we did,” PM Pashinyan stated.
“I am sure that the positive dynamics of foreign trade indicators will be maintained in the following years, thanks to the growth of the economies of our countries and the development of cooperation,” he added.
Noting that both Armenia and Georgia recorded double-digit economic growth in 2022, Nikol Pashinyan said “our interaction and good relationship played a very important role here.”
“The priority given to the transport sector within the framework of bilateral cooperation and the cooperation in a number of international transport structures give us the opportunity to take realistic steps in the initiatives providing connection between both North-South and East-West routes. These are also issues of the strategic dimension of our discussions, which we must continuously work on,” he added.
Regular passenger transportation between Armenia and Georgia is carried out both by land and by air. As for cargo transportation, it is necessary to make additional efforts and carry out joint continuous work to ensure easier movement, including through modern technological solutions. In this context, I would like to emphasize the importance of the commissioning of the new bridge named “Berekamutyun” at the Bagratashen-Sadakhlo checkpoint of the Armenian-Georgian interstate border in August last year,” Pashinyan noted.
He said Armenia attaches great importance to railway transport cooperation and the expansion of multimodal transport, including the organization of sea transport.
“For Armenia, Georgia, as a transit country, also has a great role in terms of reliable and safe supply of energy resources, communication and telecommunications. In 2022, 365 million kWh of electricity was exported from the Republic of Armenia to Georgia, which is more than the exports from Armenia in the previous 10 years combined.” the Prime Minister said, expressing hope that the dynamics would be maintained.
He hailed the bilateral cooperation in other fields like education and culture. “Today, the Armenian-Georgian cooperation in the field of culture is entering a qualitatively new phase, in which the status of merely perceiving each other’s cultures is changing to the level of forming a unified cultural field based on the principle of cooperation, and jointly positioning ourselves in the international cultural and tourism market,” he said.
He thanked the Georgian partners for the renovation of the State Armenian Drama Theater named after Petros Adamyan in Tbilisi, as well as for supporting the activities of the theater troupe.
“The tourism sector also has significant development potential in our two countries. In 2022, the number of tourists visiting Armenia was more than 1.6 million, increasing by about 90% compared to the same period last year. I am sure that mutual tourist visits between our two countries also have the potential to grow. I would like to mention that according to preliminary data, the number of visitors from Georgia to Armenia in 2022 was about 190 thousand and this number obviously has the potential to increase,” PM Pashinyan said.
He attached importance to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia on reciprocal visa-free travel for citizens of both countries, which means that citizens of the two countries will be able to travel without a passport, just using ID cards.