ISSN 2330-717X

Georgia Embraces Dynamic Regional And Bilateral Diplomacy

Georgia's Giorgi Margvelashvili. Photo by Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres, Wikipedia Commons.Georgia's Giorgi Margvelashvili. Photo by Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres, Wikipedia Commons.

On his first year in office, the President of the Republic of Georgia, Mr. Giorgi Margvelashvili has been highly engaged in regional cooperation initiatives and has enhanced bilateral diplomatic relations with various EU member countries.

On May 13, 2014, French President Francoise Hollande conducted an official visit to Georgia.  He met with President GiorgiMargvelashvili and the two heads of state reviewed a number of pending items of the bilateral agenda.  After their official meeting, President Margvelashvili stated in a press conference: “First of all, I expressed my gratitude for the cooperation, which is being deepened between Georgia and France. This collaboration is aimed at ensuring Georgia’s defense and security. The agreement, we have made on military infrastructure, is very important in this respect.”

Both chiefs of state reiterated the willingness of their respective governments to promote and strengthen the bilateral relations between France and Georgia; this visit gave new dimensions to such a fruitful partnership.  Additionally, Paris has been a reliable supporter of Georgia’s cooperation with the European Union Institutions and supports Tbilisi’s aspirations to join the EU.

For the president of Georgia: “The EU Association Agreement creates new opportunities for our European integration, and provides the framework for new international business projects and intensifies contact among peoples.  We have focused on the significance of the “Tbilisi Summit 2014″ that was held a few days ago. We have also touched the projects, which are significant not only for Georgia, but for the whole region and Europe as well. We have discussed energy security projects that are being implemented jointly.”

Presidents of Georgia and the Republic of France held a joint press conference where the leaders spoke about the prospects for strengthening future cooperation and focused on the ongoing economic and bilateral trade initiatives.

President Hollande pointed out the important role that Georgia has in the area of energy security. In support of the ongoing regional energy projects, the French leader stated: “I would entitle this as a project of three seas -the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean- which deserves to be in focus and to be continued. At this standpoint Georgia has a very serious role. Realization of this project will allow us to unite the regions, which are not connected today, particularly in the energy sphere;” as well as reiterated his support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

According to the Georgian head of state; “France has continuously expressed very clearly its position in favor of the most important issues in the defense of Georgia.  The problems became even more troubling in 2008 and the support we received then from our French friends was very serious. It contributed significantly to maintaining Georgia’s statehood. Unfortunately, not all agreements reached in 2008 have worked.  At this standpoint, the situation of Ukraine in 2014 is the repetition of the policy launched in 2008. The spheres of privileged interests – this is the policy chosen by the Russian Federation and Georgia became one of the first victims of this process.” [1]

On May 6th, 2014, President Giorgi Margvelashvili was the host of the “Tbilisi Summit 2014” in which participated: the President of Azerbaijan, Honorable Ilham Aliyev; and the President of Turkey Mr. Abdullah Gül.  President Margvelashvili opened the Tbilisi Summit in which the delegation members from the two neighboring countries were participating.  In this occasion the President of Azerbaijan underlined the importance of regional cooperation and strengthening of the commercial ties between Azerbaijan and the other two neighboring countries.  The President of Azerbaijan the Honorable Ilham Aliyev stated: “Our cooperation has long-term projections and has very impressive results.  By being here together today, we once again emphasize the important initiatives we are leading throughout the region. I’d like to thank the President of Turkey and President of Georgia for reinforcing the significance of this regional summit.”

The three heads of state discussed the issues of inter-state relations and exchanged the results of the existing cooperation. They also spoke about the future of regional cooperation and agreed in principle for strengthening regional economic growth.  According to a press release published at the official website of Georgian President: “The three delegations discussed economic, infrastructure, transport and energy projects and underlined that the implementation of each of these projects should guarantee the stability in the region.The leaders agreed on holding the summit regularly in the future so that all three countries would benefit from its results.”

In Tbilisi, President Ilham Aliyev announced: “[The Tbilisi] Summit 2014 will have brilliant results. Our countries have high-level ties. We are doing our best for making the trilateral relations serve not only our states, but the whole region as well. Our cooperation is based on common interests and it is conditioned by the importance of our projects. The Summit has international meaning. Energy security, international security and transportation issues – these are the topical issues of this summit. We’ll also discuss the plans for future cooperation.”

For the President of Turkey: “the current projects implemented by the three countries [as well as], their progress were the key goal of the summit.This summit is yet another example of our successful cooperation. Three countries are jointly implementing projects of global significance, which are exceedingly important for the security of the Caucasian Region. We meet at the level of the presidents in order to review the ongoing processes and the ongoing progress. I believe that such summits will be held regularly.”  The leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey held trilateral and bilateral meetings within this event, and were followed by joint statements in a press conference.  The three nations are expected to maintain closer ties through the coordination of trilateral meetings every year. [2]

On April 28th, 2014 President Margvelashvili conducted his first official visit to Estonia.  His trip to Tallinn took place four years after the official visit of former Georgian President MikheilSaakashviliin January 2010. [3]

During his state visit the Georgian president met with Estonian counterpart Toomas Hendrik Ilves and attended the international conference for “Free and Secure Internet for all” in Tallinn.  In their discussions the two heads of state shared the excellent bilateral relations and discussed the future bilateral cooperation in trade and commerce.  President Ilves reiterated his country’s support towards Georgia’s full integration in the European Union.  The signing of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union was also in the focus of their discussions.  Since the beginning, the Estonian government has supported Georgia’s integration efforts to the EU and NATO as well as its territorial integrity and sovereignty. In this occasion President Margvelashvili had very productive meetings with Eiki Nestor, Chairman of Estonian Parliament and TaaviRoivas, Estonian Prime Minister.

Over the last two decades, Georgia and Estonia have intensified their bilateral relations, especially in: inter-parliamentary cooperation, culture and science, commercial, economic, defense and border and customs management. [4] In the last twenty years, both governments have signed 13 bilateral agreements that range from joint declarations and double taxation to important agreements between Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Ministries of the two respective countries.

Estonia has supported the implementation of good governance projects, the improvement of education policy, research and development, consolidation of democracy in Georgia.

In July 2013, many choreographers from the Ballet and Opera Theatres of Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi participated in Saaremaa International Opera Festival, in Estonia, in which the Georgian Culture was promoted in the Nordic region unlike any other time in the past. From 2009 until 2012, bilateral trade relations between Estonia and Georgia have experienced a steady growth (in 2011 Georgia exported commodities to Estonia with a value of US$2.77 million and imported from Estonia products valued at US$4.78 million; in 2012 Georgia exported to Estonia US$3.7 million worth of products and imported products with a value of US$9 million), however in 2013 bilateral trade has significantly been reduced: Georgia exported goods to Estonia, totaling US$1.7 million and imported goods from the Baltic country valued at US$5.1 million.  Currently both countries have to further explore the possibilities to balance their trade relations.

On Wednesday, April 2, 2014 the President of Georgia began his official visit to Warsaw, Poland.  The Georgian head of state had a meeting with Polish President BronislawKomorowski and the following day met with Donald Tusk, the Polish Prime Minister.  After his meeting with the Georgian president, Mr. Komorowski stated that: “Poland consistently supports Georgia’s aspirations to become a member of the EU and NATO.” At a joint press conference the president of Georgia expressed his nation’s aspirations to sign an association agreement with the European Union.

Poland is the first country in Europe to be visited by Georgia’s President.  On this occasion the Polish President stated: “For us this is a confirmation of Georgia’s willingness for cooperation and its determination in building the best possible path to being included in the European and Euro-Atlantic project.  The most important issue now is for Georgia to sign an association agreement with the EU as soon as possible, and Poland will support these efforts.”

According to President Komorowski; “due to the crisis surrounding Ukraine andthe current Ukrainian-Russian relations, the association agreement is the Western world’s best possible response to the Ukrainian crisis.”

President Margvelashvili underlined that his country “is unequivocal in its efforts and aspirations to join the NATO [alliance] and [fulfill] its European aspirations as well.”

The Georgian leader expressed his gratitude to the Polish nation who has been close to Georgia:”When Georgia looks towards Europe it knows it has a faithful friend there to count on, in both complicated and everyday situations; [there are] many years of an unequivocal, stable and principled partnership stance.” The two leaders also discussed further development of economic cooperation between Poland and Georgia.  The Georgian President held a meeting with Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister of Poland.  They talked about bilateral relations and the growth of economic and trade cooperation. One of the issues discussed was the process of Georgia’s integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Prime Minister Tusk reiterated his government’s strong support for Georgia’s EU integration aspirations.  The two leaders exchanged thoughts on the current regional security issues and the Ukrainian crisis.[5]

Georgia and Poland cooperate under the guidelines of a Bilateral Development Cooperation Program, which encompasses the development of joint projects in favor of minorities and marginalized groups, regional development and small and medium enterprises.  In 2011-2013 the funding of these projects reached over 4 million Euros.  Additionally, commercial and economic cooperation are overseen by a Bilateral Economic Inter-Governmental Commission established in 2009. [6]

Bilateral trade and commerce has been growing every year. In 2011, Georgia exported US$ 9.53 Million worth of goods and commodities and imported from Poland many products with a value of US$63.5 million.  In 2012, bilateral trade between Georgia and Poland has experienced a significant growth, amounting to US$90.9 million (Georgia exported US$5.3 million worth of products and imported US$85.6 million in commodities from Poland), with an increase of US$ 18 million more than the previous year.  In 2013, trade and economic relations reached US$ 96.1 million. [7]  Bilateral relations between Poland and Georgia are at the apex of the two nations’ respective foreign policies and will further flourish under the administrations of President Komorowski and his counterpart President Margvelashvili.

Sources and references:
[2] https://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/Releases/?8796
[1] https://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/Releases/?8801
[3] http://www.mfa.gov.ge/index.php?sec_id=294&lang_id=ENG
[4] https://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/MeetingsAndVisits?8781
https://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/MeetingsAndVisits?8797
[5] https://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/MeetingsAndVisits?p=8736&i=1
[6] https://www.president.gov.ge/en/PressOffice/News/MeetingsAndVisits?p=8730&i=1
http://www.mfa.gov.ge/index.php?lang_id=ENG&sec_id=348
[7] http://www.president.pl/en/news/news/art,592,poland-supports-georgias-eu-and-nato-aspirations.html


About the Author

Peter Tase
Peter Tase
Peter Tase is a contributor, freelance journalist and a research scholar of Paraguayan Studies and Latin American Affairs in the United States; he is the founder of Paraguay Economic Forum in Milwaukee, United States. Educated at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and Marquette University, Tase is the author of "Simultaneous Dictionary in Five Languages: Guarani, English, Italian, Albanian and Spanish" and "El Dr. FEDERICO FRANCO y Su Mandato Presidencial en la Historia del Paraguay." Tase has written many articles on Paraguay's current Foreign Policy, Latin American Affairs and MERCOSUR regional trade issues for Eurasia Review and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, D.C.. Peter has appeared on SNT Cerro Cora, Asuncion and appeared in “Tribuna Pública” in TV Publica Paraguay, as well as given interviews for Diario 5 Dias in Paraguay, ABC Color, Ultima Hora, IP Paraguay, Revista PLUS+, Radio Ñandutí, Radio Nacional del Paraguay, www.datamyne.com and Spero News. Tase completed a Congressional Internship in the Office of Congressman Richard Pombo (CA-11), U.S. House of Representatives, and studied U.S. Government and International Affairs at the Les Aspin Center for Government in Washington, D.C.. In 2012 he was an adviser of Foreign Affairs and International trade Issues to the Chairman of the Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry in the National Congress of Paraguay. Peter Tase is fluent in Guarani, Italian, Spanish, Albanian and mainly writes in English and Spanish.

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