Marking the first day of an official two-day state visit to Armenia by Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, RSC Director Richard Giragosian noted the significance of the visit as an element in a broader effort to deepen and expand bilateral relations between Armenia and Georgia. The Georgian Foreign Minister will also meet with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, and will hold a joint press conference with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan.

In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Armenian Service, Giragosian hailed the visit as the latest sign “that the Georgian government is ready to deepen Armenian-Georgian relations,” adding that in the wake of “two significant developments: the recent Russian--Turkish crisis and the opening of Iran—Georgia is investing more in its role in the South Caucasus and is intent on becoming an even more active regional actor.”

Giragosian also said that the visit would also “center on more specific issues, such as further moves to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the defense and security sectors, as well as a continuation of talks over the possible transit of natural gas from Iran through Armenia to Georgia.”

The RCS director also noted “the geopolitical context of the visit, reflecting the Georgian government’s desire to adopt a more balanced policy, well beyond its traditional reliance on Azerbaijan and Turkey, which each contributes to the strategic role of Georgia as a regional energy hub.” As an affirmation of this policy, Giragosian pointed to the recent visit to Armenia only last month by Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli, who had a successful two-day official visit to Yerevan and met the senior Armenian leadership in early February. During that visit last month, Georgian Defense Minister Khidasheli concluded a bilateral annual defense cooperation program that includes an “exchange of experience in peacekeeping operations, military education, training and strategic planning.”

According to Giragosian, that was also a demonstration of “a higher level of cooperation between the defense ministries of Armenia and Georgia,” which he argued was “also aimed to prevent any third party, such as Russia or Azerbaijan, from damaging Armenian-Georgian relations.”

As an independent “thin tank” in Armenia, the Regional Studies Center (RSC) conducts a number of projects focusing on regional issued in the South Caucasus, including economic development, military security and conflict transformation. One of the more active projects in this regional context is the RSC project aimed at strengthening Armenian-Georgian relations.