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Armenian President Praises Georgian Counterpart

Presidents Sarkisian (left) of Armenia and Saakashvili of Georgia

Presidents Sarkisian (left) of Armenia and Saakashvili of Georgia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL) -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has bestowed the Medal of Honor, Armenia's highest award for foreign dignitaries, upon Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Saakashvili was honored for his contribution to "strengthening the centuries-old friendship between Georgia and Armenia" during a ceremony in Yerevan.

Sarkisian also praised Saakashvili's efforts to improve socioeconomic conditions in Georgia's restive Javakheti region, which is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians.

The praise stands in sharp contrast to criticism of Tbilisi regularly voiced by politicians in Yerevan and in Javakheti.

The two presidents also agreed to ease the transit of Armenian cargoes through Georgia and pledged to press for the reopening of the Upper Lars border crossing between Georgia and Russia, which served as Armenia's sole overland connection to the former Soviet Union and Europe prior to its closure by Russia in June 2006.