Georgia Braces Its Relations With EU And Regional Countries
By Peter Tase
In his first eight months in office, the President of the Republic of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili has proactively led his country’s foreign policy objectives in the region and strives to preserve closer ties with European Union member countries. Tbilisi’s cooperation initiatives with neighboring countries and President Margvelashvili’s official visits in France, Central Europe and the Baltic states have been the cornerstone of his accomplishments in 2014. Such initiatives have enhanced bilateral diplomatic relations of Georgia with Azerbaijan and Turkey as well as with various EU member countries.
Tbilisi Summit 2014
On May 6th, 2014, President Giorgi Margvelashvili hosted the “Tbilisi Summit 2014” where the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, attended in Georgia’s capital.  President Margvelashvili opened the Tbilisi Summit joined by the two regional heads of state. In this occasion the President of Azerbaijan underlined the importance of regional cooperation and strengthening of the commercial ties between Azerbaijan and Georgia and Turkey. On this occasion President 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.”
According to InterPressNews, in this meeting “there were discussed the results of economic, trade, transportation and energy cooperation between the states in the past 20 years.”  The three heads of state also spoke about the future of this trilateral cooperation and agreed in principle for strengthening regional economic growth. According to the official press release published: “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 this summit regularly in the future so that all three countries would benefit from its results.”
In Tbilisi, President Ilham Aliyev announced upon his arrival: “[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 to the whole region as well. Our cooperation is based on common interests and it is conditioned by the importance of our projects. This Summit had an international meaning. Energy security, international security and transportation issues – are the topic of discussion. We’ll also discuss the plans for future cooperation.”
The President of Turkey stated that: “the projects implemented by the three countries [and] of their progress was 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 progress of this cooperation. I believe that such summits will be held regularly.” The leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey held trilateral and bilateral meetings within this framework, which were followed by joint statements in a press conference. The three nations are expected to maintain closer ties through the coordination of such trilateral meetings every year. 
Bilateral Diplomacy in Focus
On May 13th, 2014, French President Francoise Hollande conducted an official visit to Georgia. He met with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and the two heads of state reviewed the 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 is a collaboration 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 their respective governments’ willingness to promote and strengthen the bilateral relations; this visit gave new dimensions to this 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 Georgian head of state: “the EU Association Agreement creates new opportunities for [Georgia’s] European integration, and provides the framework for new international business projects, and foster regular contact among both nations. We focused on the significance of the ‘Tbilisi Summit 2014’ that was held a few days ago. We have also touched upon the projects, which are significant not only for Georgia, but for the whole region and European Union as well. We have discussed energy security projects that are being implemented jointly.”
Both presidents held a joint press conference where they spoke about the prospects for strengthening future cooperation and focused on the ongoing economic and bilateral trade projects. 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 President 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 point 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.
For 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 in 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.” 
On April 28th, 2014 President Margvelashvili visited Estonia for the first time. His trip to Tallinn took place four years after the official visit by his predecessor, President Mikheil Saakashvili in January 2010.
During his state visit the Georgian president met with Estonian President 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 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 bilateral talks and the Estonian counterparts have traditionally supported Georgia’s EU integration efforts since the beginning as well as its territorial integrity. In 2013 the commercial relations between the two countries reached over US$ 6.8 million in the exchange of goods and services. 
On May 8th, 2014, the President of Georgia met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague. Both parties discussed the existing close relations and the prospects for enhancing the cooperation between Georgia and United Kingdom. Giorgi Margvelashvili thanked William Hague for the support that Great Britain has given to Georgia’s territorial integrity and on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration. The parties emphasized the significance of the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union stating that this would encourage the development of Georgia’s economic development. On his turn, Mr. Hague spoke with gratitude about the contribution of Georgian armed forces to international missions. He thanked the President of Georgia for its decision on sending Georgian troops to the EUFOR RCA international peacekeeping mission. The democratic reforms carried out by the government of Georgia in recent years were also discussed at the meeting. The parties expressed their hope that the democratic changes taking place in Georgia would be positively received at the NATO Summit, which will be held in Great Britain in September. The President and the British Diplomat also reviewed the situation in the region, giving a particular emphasis on the crisis in Ukraine. They have also assessed the Tbilisi Summit 2014 and stated that Georgia played very important role for ensuring stability and security in the region. 
On March 4th, the President of Georgia held an official meeting with the Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk in Warsaw. Their conversation focused primarily on the bilateral relations and how to strengthen the bilateral partnership in economic cooperation, commercial exchange and political support in international organizations. Georgia’s integration in the EU and NATO was another topic of mutual interest. Prime Minister Tusk stated that Poland was a very strong supporter of Georgia on this path. Both leaders touched upon the current situation in Ukraine. The Georgian President in his turn thanked the Prime Minister of Poland for the support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Giorgi Margvelashvili also underlined the importance of the upcoming visit of the Poland’s Prime Minister to Georgia. 
On April 2nd, 2014, the President of Georgia had a one-on-one meeting with Polish President Bronisław Komorowski. The Republic of Poland is the first EU member country in which the president of Georgia conducted his official visit abroad. Both leaders discussed the existing bilateral relations and emphasized that it was necessary to enhance this cooperation, especially in economic spheres, including commerce and trade sectors. Giorgi Margvelashvili focused on the issues of Georgia’s EU and NATO aspirations and stressed Poland’s experience in the process of European integration. Georgia’s President thanked his Polish counterpart for the support demonstrated from his country to preserve Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and on its path towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration. After the meeting, the two leaders held a joint press conference and summed up the results of the meeting before Georgian and international media. 
Poland unequivocally supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders. Georgia and Poland have developed close cooperation in a number of areas of mutual interest, especially in the regional economic development. Poland, as one of the founding countries of the Eastern Partnership, supports Georgia’s European aspirations and expresses readiness to share its successful experiences for Euro-Atlantic integration. In 2013 the bilateral trade between both countries reached over US$ 96 million in combined trade. Georgia and Poland cooperate in the following areas: support for socially marginalized groups; regional economic development; Small and Medium Size Enterprises. During the 2011 – 2013 periods the funding of these projects reached 4,038,363 Euros. In 2009, both nations have established an economic inter-governmental commission. Over the period of 2011-201, bilateral trade and economic relations reached over US$365 million. 
On June 18th, 2014, President Margvelashvili welcomed the president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan in Tbilisi. The visit of Armenian president was conducted only a few months after the official visit of Georgia’s president to Yerevan. The two nations are making a good progress towards the economic and commercial cooperation. On June 27th, Georgia signed the Association Agreement with the European Union and Armenia will soon become members of Eurasian Customs Union. Both Presidents have mutual aspirations to further improve the trade ties between their countries. For the Armenian president “this visit to Georgia has a great significance within which we have had very constructive conversation as we discussed a whole range of issues related to the mutual interests. These issues are equally important for Georgia and Armenia and I believe that we will succeed in implementing the plans we have made with the purpose of further consolidation of Georgian-Armenian partnership and for future cooperation.”
Both leaders noted the importance of stability in the South Caucasus and were committed to strengthen the current bilateral partnership. Additionally both countries have achieved a high level of growth in the bilateral trade and continue to strengthen their multifaceted cooperation. 
In January 2010 Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili visited Tallinn where he met with the Chairman of the Parliament Eiki Nestor and the Prime Minister Taavi Roivas. Bilateral relations where in focus, as well as international situation, Georgia’s integration into the EU and NATO, and the issues of internet freedom. The Georgian President was invited by the President of Estonia.  Estonia firmly supports Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations and expresses readiness to share with Georgia its successful experience of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Estonia supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders. Georgia and Estonia enjoy intensive bilateral inter-parliamentary, cultural, economic, defense and border management cooperation. Georgia has earned a special priority in Estonia’s Development Cooperation policy. That includes support on the implementation of joint projects aiming to establish good governance, development of modern educational system and sustainable democratic institutions in Georgia.