Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
An interview of the head of the Republican Institute of Georgia, Ivlian Khaindrava, with Arminfo news agency
by Tatevik Shahunyan
Mr Khaindrava, how do you assess the current situation in the Armenian-Georgian relations taking into consideration the media hype regarding the last statements by Georgia’s foreign minister and Patriarch Ilia the Second, about the necessity of settlement of the Karabakh conflict within the frames of the principle of territorial integrity?
I calmly treat this hype, as the church does not settle political issues in secular states and Patriarch's viewpoint (if it was expressed) cannot affect the process around Nagornyy Karabakh. As for the statement by Georgia's foreign minister made in the European Club under the parliament of Latvia, it was not beyond the frames of the standard diplomatic vocabulary, as I know.
Do these statements reflect the impartial situation in the Armenian-Georgian relations, or are the fruit of the mass media fantasy?
Coming of the new political force to the power in Georgia caused certain nervousness within the country as well as among its neighbors and partners. This is clear, as premier Ivanishvili and the ruling coalition are taken by many people like a “dark horse”. However, there are all the grounds to suppose that foreign political course of Georgia will not radically change and the Euroatlantic integration will gain new impulse. Anyway Georgia and Armenia are simply doomed to develop and deepen their relations, though it is no secret that their positions differ in certain issues. This is reflected, for instance, when voting in UN and other international organizations. However, the political elites did not dramatize such a circumstance long ago. By the way, the Armenian businessmen and ordinary citizens of Armenia are directly contacting with Georgia more and more. This is evidence of the fact that they feel themselves rather comfortably in our country.
May the created situation affect the visit by Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili to Armenia?
The forthcoming visit by Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili to Armenia is one of his first foreign visits like a premier. This is evidence of the dynamically developing Armenian-Georgian relations. Unfortunately, we have got opponents of further development of the Armenian-Georgian relations not only outside our countries but also within them. However, they cannot disrupt the grounds of the big policy.
What key issues will be discussed during Ivanishvili’s visit to Armenia?
The visit by Georgia's Prime Minister Bedzina Ivanishvili to Armenia on 17 January is first of all targeted at establishment of personal knowledge with his Armenian counterparts. This is always necessary and important from the point of view of formation of the mutual trust regime for the future years. I think that pragmatic leaders will easily find common ground. They will touch on all the issues of common interest and fix the lines of the coinciding interests. I hope the needed attention will be drawn to the driving of both countries to the free trade agreement with European Union, as Tbilisi as well as Yerevan have been working in this direction. In this context, we noticed the decision of Armenia about unilateral cancel of the visa regime with the countries of the EU, after which Georgia and Armenia formed a single non-visa area for the Europeans.
In his last interview the second president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan said that opening of the Abkhazian railway by the new authorities of Georgia will positively affect the economic situation in Armenia. How do you assess such an opportunity?
The new authorities of Georgia have initiated opening of the Abkhazian railway thanks to the relevant political will and readiness to discuss practical aspects of the issue. However, the authorities of Sukhumi quickly passed up Tbilisi’s proposal, Moscow’s reaction was obscure and Baku’s – extremely nervous. It is clear, that in such a situation only Georgia cannot open the railway traffic through Abkhazia, which is beneficial to Armenia. But this issue will return to the regional agenda sooner or later.
Why Vahagn Chakhalyan’s name was not among the political prisoners which were amnestied?
I think that there were certain grounds for Vahagn Chakhakyan not to be amnestied. You may address to relevant instances regarding the possibility of his setting free on parole.