Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili today participated in the official inauguration of the Armenian-Georgian Friendship Bridge at the Bagratashen-Sadakhlo checkpoint on the Armenia-Georgia interstate border. The ceremony was also attended by members of the government of both countries: Deputy Prime Minister Hambardzum Matevosyan, Minister of Defense Suren Papikyan, Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Gnel Sanosyan, Minister of Finance Tigran Khachatryan and others were present from the Armenian side.
In his speech, PM Pashinyan particularly said,
“Honorable Mr. Prime Minister Garibashvili,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome all of you at the launching event of this bridge, which heralds the close and multi-content cooperation between Armenian-Georgian partnership.
Undoubtedly, the centuries-old ties of our two brotherly countries, anchored on common values and historical heritage, need such a modern and important infrastructure in line with the requirements of the time, which creates a solid foundation for our future extensive cooperation.
I am more than convinced that today all the necessary preconditions exist for developing and deepening the relations with brotherly Georgia in accordance with the important foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Armenia.
In the light of the current complex challenges, an outstanding growth has been recorded in the Armenian-Georgian trade and economic relations. I was pleasantly surprised today to record that we have a 97 percent increase in trade turnover compared to the same period last year. Of course, in the previous years, the post-covid year, the base was not so big, but anyway, this is a very impressive indicator, which, I think, is the result of the implementation of joint and continuous, relentless and consistent work. Against the background of our intense relations, when we go back and look at the numbers and see such positive trends, it certainly motivates us to try to make our intensive relations even more intense.
The Armenian-Georgian trade and economic relations have greater potential, and this is exactly what I mean saying that we should be able to use this potential with our work. There are serious opportunities for deepening cooperation in industry, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, information and communication, transport, energy, tourism and other fields. It is obvious that communication channels are of key importance for the development of trade and economic relations, which provide an opportunity to integrate into the world economy and to establish and ensure vital connections at the national, regional and international levels.
The priority of the transport sector in our bilateral cooperation and cooperation in a number of international transport structures enable us to take realistic steps not only for the Persian Gulf-Black Sea international transport corridor, but also for other initiatives that provide a junction connection in the transport sector. I fully hope that the involvement of the already interested parties and other stakeholders through the implementation of more active works and the coordination and implementation of the agreements reached will contribute to the promising regional cooperation.
I should note with satisfaction that 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 continuous joint work to ensure their easier movement. In this context, I would also like to emphasize the importance of railway transport cooperation and the expansion of multimodal, in particular, ferry transportation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Georgia, as a transit country for Armenia, has a great role in terms of reliable and safe supply of energy resources, communication and telecommunications. There is a lot of experience of effective cooperation in the field of energy. Daily and consistent work in the mentioned direction and in the direction of ensuring cyber security should be carried out by relevant departments and structures.
I have to mention that it is necessary to develop cross-border cooperation between the two countries, which was noticeably beneficial in terms of the implementation of preventive actions, especially during the period of the pandemic.
It is important for our two countries to expand cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian sphere. We must continue making efforts in the field of tourism by simultaneously offering joint tourist packages for visitors to Armenia and Georgia.
Referring to the inter-regional and decentralized cooperation between Armenia and Georgia, I must mention that it has quite large development opportunities. The involvement of international structures in various cross-border cooperation programs should be considered.
No less important is the further development of cooperation in the fields of environmental protection, job and employment, education and science, sports and youth. It is necessary to intensify the organization of joint events, to implement exchanges of experience.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Naturally, interdepartmental meetings, active mutual visits and close interpersonal contacts are necessary for the implementation of all the above directions. And for ensuring these conditions, it is important to carry out contacts in an unhindered and facilitated manner, which this structure, this bridge, will contribute to from now on.
Concluding my speech, I would like to thank all the involved parties, financing, designing and construction organizations, for making this infrastructure, symbolizing the friendship of the two countries, a reality and for the effective work. I am sure that the efforts made will give a positive impetus to the mutually beneficial cooperation in all possible directions and to our bilateral fraternal ties.
I wish all of us further success and new achievements for the benefit of the progress of our states and the welfare of our two peoples.
Thank you and congratulations.”
In his speech, Irakli Garibashvili said,
“Honorable Prime Minister,
We know very well that the friendship between our countries is measured by many centuries. Our relations is not only an example of brotherhood and friendship, but a prerequisite for the welfare, stability, security and development of the entire region.
The Friendship Bridge we have built together embodies the success of our partnership and our friendship. The 160m long four-lane bridge, jointly built on the territory of the two states with modern standards, is a rare project in the region. Its operation doubles the transport capacity at the border, improves the safety quality for both citizens and guests of both countries, as well as transit vehicles, and this in turn will contribute to further strengthening of trade and economic relations.
Mr. Prime Minister,
I have to note that the bridge will not only be useful for the citizens and guests of Armenia and Georgia, but it acquires strategic importance as an important part of the east-west international route. I want to note that today the development of the road corridor in our country is proceeding at a high pace. We have already built half of the east-west highway, in just two years the construction of all its main sections will be completed. In the context of such massive projects, the operation of a bridge with modern standards at crossing points becomes even more urgent. And I want to mention once again that the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was very important for the joint and successful cooperation of the two friendly countries. I want to thank the representative of the bank. More than €7 million was provided for this project. I also thank personally the leadership of the bank, I also thank the construction and supervision companies, professional teams, designers, engineers, builders, everyone who participated in the implementation of this important project.
I want to say, Mr. Prime Minister, that we have built a new bridge of friendship between our countries, and we are officially celebrating it. This bridge empowers us, our countries, the entire region.
Thank you once again, peace to our countries, prosperity and progress to our peoples.”
The Bagratashen crossing point bridge reconstruction project is being implemented with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The loan agreement for the Northern Border Modernization Project was signed on November 23, 2012. On December 24, 2014, an intergovernmental agreement was signed between the Governments of Armenia and Georgia, by which an intergovernmental commission was established for jointly implementing the project. The construction kicked off in 2021. Drilling of foundations, reinforcement and concreting of foundations and retaining walls, and concreting of tunnel passages were carried out. Bridges with 50 pre-stressed steel girders were installed, reinforcement and concreting works were performed, as well as asphalting of the surface. Installation works of lighting and drainage systems were carried out. The safety barriers were installed, the sidewalks and approach roads were asphalted, road signs and markings were completed. Within the framework of the project, a 6X10m flag of the Republic of Armenia was installed at the checkpoint on a 30-meter high metal pole. 100% of the works envisaged by the contract have actually been completed.