Georgia, Serbia Eager to Advance Cooperation

Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic signed a joint declaration in Tbilisi that aims at advancing cooperation between the two states.

The document was signed during Dacic’s visit to Tbilisi. In addition to the declaration, a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia was signed.

During the face-to-face meeting, the foreign ministers of the two countries discussed mutual cooperation issues in various fields. The high-level bilateral visits in recent years, including the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia to Belgrade and visit of Serbia’s Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker to Tbilisi, were positively assessed.

The opening of a Georgian consulate in Belgrade in late March and sending of a Georgian representative there were also emphasized as a very positive step in advancing relations between the two countries.

At the joint press conference, Zalkaliani spoke about the close ties between the Georgian and Serbian people.

“The Serbian and Georgian people are connected with a historical past and cultural ties that combine European values and respect for universal principles of international law,” the Minister said.

He added that during the meeting with his colleague, special emphasis was placed on economic cooperation between Georgia and Serbia.

Zalkaliani said the parties had positively assessed the Intergovernmental Economic Commission meeting scheduled for July this year, which will be opened in Tbilisi and will be Georgia-Serbia's second business forum.

The Minister also noted that Georgia is actively cooperating with Serbia in terms of sharing experience on Euro Integration, the confirmation of which is the dialogue on EU issues held on April 18.

Regional developments and the current situation in the occupied regions of Georgia were also one of the main topics of the meeting.

"We talked about the issue of conflict settlement, including the importance of the ongoing Geneva Talks. We once again confirmed our foreign policy course that is aimed at Georgia's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. We maintain a principled position towards each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zalkaliani said.

Special attention was paid to the importance of visa-free travel between the two countries that promotes inter-community contacts and tourism. A very positive assessment was given to the launch of direct air traffic between Georgia and Serbia. The two countries signed a visa-free agreement in March 2018.

At the end of the meeting, Zalkaliani thanked his Serbian colleague for the personal contribution to promoting Georgia-Serbia relations.

"I would like to once again reiterate the willingness to support the deepening of cooperation between our countries. I am sure that the visit of my Serbian colleague gives an additional incentive to the relations between the two countries,” he said.

The Serbian minister also expressed hope that mutual cooperation will be boosted.

"I expect that our relationships will be expanded. We welcome the opening of Georgian consulate in Belgrade. We will also open a diplomatic office and have diplomatic missions in Belgrade and in Tbilisi: this is a major step forward. I want to emphasize that there is a great respect, love and trust between Serbia and Georgia," Dacic said.

The Serbian minister was also hosted by the Georgian Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze. The parties discussed cooperation in terms sharing experience on the path to European integration. The development of economic ties and their harmonization with political cooperation was emphasized as one of the key priorities in Serbia-Georgia relations.

The meeting also discussed the cultural and humanitarian cooperation between the two countries, and the importance of further cementing people-to-people contacts for the development of economic and business relations was emphasized.

During the meeting with the Georgian President, Salome Zurabishvili, Ivica Dacic noted that Serbia supports Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: MFA of Georgia

25 April 2019 22:20