German FM: We Appreciate Georgia’s Reform Efforts

"We support Georgia's rapprochement with the EU and we appreciate the great efforts that Georgia has made in terms of reforms," said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, following a meeting with his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Janelidze, in Berlin.

He added that in 1992, Germany was the first state to recognize Georgia’s independence and open an embassy in Tbilisi, and positively assessed Georgia’s visa-liberalization with the European Union. The German FM also thanked Georgia for the bravery of Georgian servicemen in Afghanistan, who repelled a terroristic attack on the German Consulate in November 2016. "Georgian soldiers were the ones who gave the Germans first aid; thank you very much for this," he said.

Minister Janelidze said his visit to Germany will deepen bilateral relations between the two countries.

"Germany has made a significant contribution to Georgia’s institutional and economic transformation and is the second largest donor to Georgia,” he said, highlighting Germany’s political assistance in Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic path and aspirations. The minister emphasized the strong trade and economic ties between the two countries, noting that some 380 German companies currently operate in Georgia. “Georgia as a reformer country is an attractive model for German investors and today Germany is Georgia’s number one trading partner in the EU space,” Janelidze said.

The Georgian minister also met Chancellor Angela Merkel's foreign and security policy adviser Christoph Heusgen. Discussions focused on partner relations between Georgia and Germany in various areas, with Heusgen highlighting Georgia’s impressive progress and its fundamental transformation in making Georgia a member of the European family.

The diplomats spoke about issues of regional security and Janelidze payed special attention to steps taken by the Russian Federation towards annexation of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions. Heusgen pledged Germany’s support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and praised the Georgian government’s policy toward peaceful resolution of the conflict, de-escalation of the situation and confidence-building measures between the communities torn apart by the war.

Janelidze later met with representatives of the Georgian diaspora in Germany, where he emphasized the important role and contribution of Germany to the development of Georgia since the restoration of its independence. He underlined the technical and financial assistance and the importance of co-operation in education, especially in terms of the increasing number of German scholarships granted to Georgian students.

Janelidze also spoke about the diaspora strategy with the slogan “A united and strong diaspora with close links to the homeland.” According to the Minister, it is the first strategy on diaspora oriented towards concrete projects promoting the active involvement of diaspora representatives in the development of the country, helping them improve their status in the host countries and promote Georgia and its potential abroad.

In order to mark 200 years of relations between Germany and Georgia and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, the ministers officially opened the Georgian-German Year in the Weltsaal Conference Hall of the German Foreign Office.

Within the framework of the reception evening, a concert with the participation of Georgian musicians was also held, as was an exhibition titled ‘Future Heritage – 200 years: Georgian-German histories’.

Thea Morrison

27 April 2017 18:50