French-Georgian Relations Strengthened as High-level Meetings Take Place

Georgia’s Internal Affairs Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri has met with the Minister of Interior of the French Republic, Christophe Castaner. The meeting was held within the frames of Gomelauri’s official visit to France.

During the meeting, Gomelauri expressed gratitude to his French counterpart for the support of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and stressed the importance of the support of the French Republic to the country's European integration process.

The visit aims to strengthen further the law-enforcement cooperation between the two countries, as well as to allow for discussion of the joint measures and future activities to overcome the challenges of the visa-free regime with the EU. In response to said challenges, an Administrative Arrangement between the Ministry of Interior of Republic of France and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia was signed in May 2019. The Ministers also underscored the success of the activities undertaken by the Georgian officers deployed to the French Gendarmerie, National Police and Border Police who work side by side with their French colleagues.

After the meeting, the ministers personally met with the Georgian officers together with their French supervisors. They discussed the progress of their work and wished them achievements in their cooperative activities. At the joint press conference after the meeting, the ministers provided information for the media on existing cooperation between the agencies, the mutual measures implemented to address the current challenges as well as their consequences.

“Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to the Minister for the invitation," Gomelauri said. "France's support is of utmost importance to our country. Visa liberalization is a significant achievement for us, for our country and we spare no efforts to maintain visa-free travel to the EU. I would like to reiterate that integration in the EU is important for our people. We cooperate in the area of migration as well as fight against organized crime that is of concern for France today. Minister Castaner has already visited Georgia and met with the former Minister of Internal Affairs who currently serves as the Prime Minister, they agreed on various directions, including migration and organized crime. We have deployed 3 more police officers and we are considering deploying more officers to prevent arrival of asylum seekers and avoid their increase in France. We remain committed to continuing cooperation with France and I am confident the numbers will decrease through our joint effort” Georgia’s Interior Minister said.

The Minister of Interior of France congratulated his Georgian colleague on his appointment.

“In the first month of this year, Georgia held the first position in numbers of asylum seekers – this was anomaly since Georgia is recognized as a safe country of origin and we know that Georgia is a modern and dynamic country that offers quality services to its citizens at an affordable price, sometimes even for free, almost with the same obligations as in France. During the first months of this year, we have registered an extremely large number of asylum seekers that have traveled through visa liberalization. However, 97% of their requests were not satisfied. We have discussed adoption of specific measures of control with the Georgian side, including at the departure and arrival airports; we have expressed readiness to enhance cooperation to fight again organized crime. I would like to underline the progress we have made and express my gratitude to my Georgian colleague for high-level cooperation. After my visit to Georgia, within the framework of existing cooperation, the number of asylum seekers has been decreased during recent months, by approximately 50%. It is important to maintain this outcome. Our cooperation is also significant in the area of fight against crime and we welcome 3 Georgian police officers in Paris who will be further reinforced by 2 liaison officers that will work together with our departments. I understand that there could be delicacies related to migration, but I would like to state the position of France that we would not endanger the agreement between Georgia and the European Union on visa-free travel. Certainly, we should spare no efforts, protect not only citizens of Georgia, but also other nationalities that we host in France. However, when this mechanism is abused it is crucial to have a firm and cooperative position. In the framework of this cooperation we have unprecedentedly increased consular staff working on Georgia. I would like to state for all Georgians who intend to travel to France to seek asylum that in frames of our cooperation we will be rather strict and offer asylum only those who truly deserve it. Hereby, I would like to underscore the engagement and efforts of the Minister of Internal Affairs” said Christophe Castener.

Meanwhile, contributing to the solidification of French-Georgian relationships, the French National Navy warship Commandant Birot has arrived at the port in Georgia’s western coastal city of Batumi earlier today, Batumi City Hall reports.

The City Hall says that the craft entered the city port thru a bilateral assistance in the naval field between Georgia and France, and it will participate in a naval drill with Georgian border police personnel and special operative forces. A joint drill is planned to take place on November 25. 

By Beka Alexishvili


22 November 2019 16:22