"Iran is a very important nation, with ancient civilization, culture and a dynamic population. It can help Georgia in many fields, particularly energy", President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia said in answer to a question by Iran Press Service.
PARIS, 10 Mar. (IPS) "Georgia has excellent relations with the Iran, an important nation and partner and look forward to expand them into all fields, developing particularly exports and imports", President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia said here in Paris, where is ending an official visit.
Speaking to correspondents at the Paris Foreign Press Centre (CAPE), the 36-years old Saakashvili, the world’s youngest leader said he had a "very constructive" meeting earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Mountain resort of Davos and decided to "reinforce and increase" relations between the two old countries.
"Iran is a very important nation, with ancient civilization, culture and a dynamic population. It can help Georgia in many fields, particularly energy", he said in answer to a question by Iran Press Service.
Elected president with 84 per cent of the votes in elections that followed months of civil disobedience known as the "Movement of the Roses", the US and France-educated Saakashvili, a lawyer and former Justice Minister, called for the creation of an "open space" made in the region of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"With President (Jacques) Chirac and other French officials I met, we discussed this project as well as our integration into the European Union, since geographically and historically, we are part of Europe", he noted.
Arrived to power on a program of vast reforms and fight against corruption, "a bitter legacy of the years of Soviet Union", he said both France and the European Union can and must help solving the Azerbaijan-Armenian conflict over the Nagorny-Karabakh, a predominately Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan that has been occupied by Armenia after a bloody war that opposed the two neighbours after the collapse of the Soviet Union and their independence.
Asked on the presence in his country of American military bases, Mr. Saakashvili said the Americans were there to train and modernize the old-fashioned Georgian army, adding: "But this does not mean we are pro Americans or want the bases continue indefinitely".
"We are pro anybody and enemy of nobody. We are Georgians and seek friendly relations with all nations, including the United States, Russia and the Europeans", he pointed out.
On the American project for a Greater Middle East, Mr. Saakashvili joined the position taken by most Arab and other countries in the region like Egypt and Iran, noting that the concerned people must be "consulted and also be the foremost players".
"But what the United States and Europe could do to advance the case of democracy, human rights, justice, equality and economic development in the region is to provide them their expertise, not to impose these principles, however commendable and important on them".
On the independence-seeking region of Abkhazia disputed between Georgia and Russia, Mr. Saakashvili praised the Russia President Vladimir Putin for his efforts to solve the crisis peacefully.
"During out last visit, Mr. Putin promised not to interfere in the crisis, but one has to accept the fact that the area is as important to Russia than to Georgia. Now we have to wait for the end of Russia elections see how Mr. Putin would act", he said candidly, adding that the Chechen problem and the threat of terrorism the conflict creates have also been discussed with the Russia leader.
"Like the Russians, we are also menaced by terrorism and like them, we are interested in solving this menace. For this reason, we have suggested carrying joint patrols with the Russians on our borders", he revealed during his press conference. ENDS IRAN GEORGIA 10304