Georgia and France Expand Cooperation

The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault, confirmed this week that France supports the ongoing reforms in Georgia, and the country’s European integration, and is ready to further expand co-operation between the two countries in a number of areas.

Ayrault made the statement on Tuesday, during a meeting with his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Janelidze.

The French Minister congratulated Janelidze on the European Parliament’s decision to lift visa-requirements for Georgian citizens, and the Georgian Foreign Minister in turn thanked his French colleague for his active support of Georgia. The officials discussed existing relations between the two countries and expressed readiness to further expand cooperation in the economic sector.

Janelidze informed his French colleague of the Georgian government’s priorities in tourism, energy, infrastructure and agriculture, and outlined prospects for mutual relations in these areas. The parties also discussed co-operation in the areas of defense and security.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry (MFA) reports that the French Foreign Minister reaffirmed France’s strong support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its firm condemnation of any attempt at the annexation of the territories of sovereign countries.

“Jean-Marc Ayrault stressed that France finds inadmissible the so-called agreements signed by Russia with Georgia’s occupied regions,” the Ministry reports.

The French Foreign Minister thanked Georgia for contributing to international security and underlined the importance of Georgia’s participation in the peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic and Mali.

The two parties also spoke about Georgia’s participation at the Bordeaux-based Wine Civilization Museum and agreed to work closely to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, with Janelidze inviting Jean-Marc Ayrault to take part in the anniversary events to be held in Georgia.

Prior to meeting his French counterpart, Janelidze held a meeting with the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, Elisabeth Guigou, in which they focused on the security situation in the region, including in Georgia’s occupied territories. They expressed their readiness to further deepen cooperation concerning the economy, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture, and other sectors.

The Georgian Foreign Minister also met with the Secretary of State for European Affairs of France, Harlem Desir, who expressed his interest in Georgia’s energy, infrastructure, tourism, and agriculture sectors.

The officials underlined the importance of the South Caucasus Office of the Agency of French Development (AFD) in Georgia which will contribute to the attraction of French investments to Georgia.

Janelidze then visited representatives of the Georgian diaspora in Paris to discuss the Georgian government’s policy with respect to Georgian citizens living abroad, including projects and programs the Ministry plans to involve the Georgian Diaspora in the development of Georgia.

Before completing his three-day visit to France, the Georgian Foreign Minister was invited to speak on Radio France Internationale about the main agenda of his meetings in France.

“Our ultimate aim is full membership of the European Union,” Janelidze said in his interview, stressing that the Georgian people had made a choice to return to the European family, “where they always belonged”.

Thea Morrison

09 February 2017 21:04