YEREVAN, JANUARY 12, ARTSAKHPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered a speech at the 12th session of the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia. The Prime Minister referred to the cooperation between the two countries in various fields, ARTSAKHPRESS.was informed from the Offic eof the Prime Minister.
In his speech, Nikol Pashinyan noted:
“Honorable Prime Minister Garibashvili,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Within the framework of the 12th session of the intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia, I once again welcome Prime Minister Garibashvili and the delegation headed by him.
There is no doubt that the friendship of the Armenian and Georgian peoples based on common values, civilizational and historical commonalities is the solid basis of our active partnership and a reliable guarantee for the future, and the further expansion and deepening of relations with Georgia is among the important priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy.
2022 can be called the year of overcoming the difficulties and consequences of the previous period. I would like to state with satisfaction that due to consistent efforts, we were able to record economic growth and our economies have returned to normal levels in many areas.
I would like to note with satisfaction that today our intergovernmental relations are at a qualitatively new stage and are recording dynamic development in various fields. The vivid proof of my words are the regular official and unofficial meetings of the leaders of Armenia and Georgia, during which we have the opportunity to address the entire agenda of bilateral relations. This tendency is also maintained in many other areas, where active bilateral contacts take place at various levels.
However, for expanding and deepening our economic relations, there is a clear mutual understanding to identify the unrealized potential and more effectively use the opportunities arising from it. In that regard, a significant share 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.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the economies of almost all countries suffered significant negative effects, and our countries were not an exception, 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 statistics of Armenia, increased almost twice compared to 2021, amounting to 759 million US dollars. Here, Georgian statistics publishes a higher figure- 1 billion USD, and I am sure that you calculated more correctly than we did. It is very important that we compare the numbers not to 2020, 2021, but to 2019, where the figures were record high. In this regard, in January-November 2019, the volume of trade turnover with Georgia was 481.7 million USD, and in 2022, compared to the same period of 2019, the increase was 57.6%. I think this indicator is, for obvious reasons, even more important, because for us and for you, 2019 was a very successful year, perhaps the most successful of the previous years.
If we compare the indicators of 11 months of 2022 with the annual indicators of 2019 (554.7 million), then even in this case in the 11 months of 2022 the trade turnover with Georgia increased by 36.9% compared to 2019. In other words, 11 months have already exceeded the entire volume of 2019, for which I want to congratulate all of us. This means that what we speak, we agree, the business world also receives that message, we also create conditions for our relations to develop dynamically.
I am sure that the positive dynamics of foreign trade indicators will be maintained in the coming years, thanks to the growth of the economies of our countries and the development of cooperation.
I would like to note with satisfaction the high economic growth in our countries. Both Armenia and Georgia recorded double-digit economic growth in 2022. I think also our cooperation and good relations played a very important role in that. The GDP growth in Armenia in January-September 2022 was 12.6%.
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 nodal connection of both North-South and East-West routes. These are also issues of the strategic dimension of our discussions, in the direction of which we must continuously work.
Regular passenger transportation between Armenia and Georgia is carried out both by land and air. As for cargo transportation, it is necessary to make additional efforts and carry out joint continuous work to ensure their easier movement, including through control, using modern technological solutions. In this context, I would like to emphasize the importance of the commissioning of the new bridge named “Friendship” at the Bagratashen-Sadakhlo checkpoint of the Armenian-Georgian interstate border in August last year.
Armenia also 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. We hope that we will be able to maintain the present dynamics in this area.
Taking into account the relevance of information technologies and their day-by-day increasing role in almost all spheres of life, the development of cooperation between Armenia and Georgia in the fields of digitalization, telecommunications, high technologies, as well as cyber security becomes imperative.
Active contacts with Georgia continue in the field of education and science. I am happy to state that since last year, Georgian language is taught in three schools in Armenia, and that number will definitely increase. For increasing that number, we expect the support of our Georgian partners to raise the level of Georgian language teaching in Armenian schools, and we expect support in the preparation and training of Georgian language specialists in order to be able to carry out in a proper volume, because the main obstacle we have today is the scarcity of the number of specialists.
Within the framework of interdepartmental cooperation, the certification program for teachers of public schools teaching Armenian in Georgia was developed, which was launched in 2022. It is planned to expand the program, which will also include teacher training courses.
I would like to note with satisfaction that effective work is underway to create a center of Georgian studies at Yerevan State University and to develop the chair of Armenian studies at Ivane Javakhishvili State University in Tbilisi.
Today, the Armenian-Georgian cooperation in the field of culture is entering a qualitatively new phase, in which the status of merely acknowledging each other’s cultures is changing to the level of forming a unified cultural field based on the principle of togetherness, and jointly positioning ourselves in the international cultural-touristic market. I also consider it necessary to emphasize organizing tours of Georgian and Armenian cultural groups, mutual visits of cultural figures, organizing exhibitions and other events. I mean that Georgian cultural figures and collectives should perform in Armenia and Armenian collectives and artists should perform in Georgia as well. I hope that as a result of our discussions, that process will also activate.
One of the important directions of our cultural cooperation is the preservation of historical and cultural monuments, and in that context we need to activate the cooperation between institutions responsible for issues of cultural heritage.
Speaking about cultural interaction, I would like to thank our Georgian partners for the renovation of the Petros Adamian Tbilisi State Armenian Drama Theatre, as well as for supporting the activities of the theatrical troupe.
The tourism sector also has significant development potential in our countries. In 2022, the number of tourists visiting Armenia was more than 1.6 million, increasing by about 90% compared to 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.
I believe that there is still unrealized potential in creating regional tourism packages between our countries, and jointly working in this direction will bring cooperation in the field of tourism to a new level. By the way, I want to say that during my first visit to Georgia, when we were meeting with representatives of the Georgian business community, the first issue they raised was that the roads from Tbilisi to Yerevan are in a very bad condition, and I promised them that we will definitely solve that issue. Now I am happy to record that the Tbilisi – Yerevan roads are in excellent condition. So, I hope that our tourism companies, according to our agreement, will activate visits, directions and cooperation. Particularly given the fact that I think that we are signing an important document in this regard, the agreement between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia on mutual visa-free travel for citizens of both countries, which means that our citizens and we can already pay mutual visits without a passport, with ID cards, which is also very important and reflects our cooperation.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you for this cooperation. What is this list of cooperation about? By and large, this is about the fact that our bilateral relations are not single-layered, nor double-layered, nor three-layered. Our relations are multi-layered, and I am sure that this quality of our high-level political relations will allow these layers to become more and more for the good of the Republic of Armenia, for the good of Georgia, for the good of the region and the age-old friendship of our two countries and peoples.
I welcome you again and wish good luck.”