Latvian PM Valdis Dombrovskis said after talks with his visiting Georgian counterpart, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in Riga on September 6 that his country supports initialing EU-Georgia Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November.
PM Dombrovskis said that the Georgian PM’s visit was a sign of further strengthening of the bilateral relations.
"Latvia supports the initialling of the EU's Association Agreement with Georgia during the forthcoming EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius this year, in order to sign it during the next Summit in the year 2015, when Latvia will be the presiding country of the EU, in Rīga," PM Dombrovskis said.
“I also raised concerns of the European Union with regard to the arrests and legal proceedings at the moment taking place in Georgia and pointed out that it is necessary to ensure that these processes that have been started against former high-level government officials, including also former Prime Minister [Vano Merabishvili], should be very clear so that to show that they are not politically motivated,” PM Dombrovskis said.
According to the Latvian PM’s office, PM Ivanishvili confirmed the importance of having transparent legal proceedings against the former officials in order to avoid suspicions about them being politically motivated.
Asked during a news conference after the meeting if Georgia will remain committed to its EU and NATO integration course or change the stance in favor of the Eurasian Union after the October 27 presidential election, Ivanishvili responded: “Nothing will change in our strategy after the elections – I don’t think something will change, I am sure about it. Europe and NATO is a choice of the Georgian people, which was also confirmed in  plebiscite. So Europe and the Euro-Atlantic space are irreplaceable [for Georgia] and the presidential election will not change it, neither it will have any impact on it whatsoever.”
He said that a presidential candidate of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, Giorgi Margvelashvili, “fully shares European and Euro-Atlantic values.”
On the same question whether Georgia will change or not its foreign policy priorities, Ivanishvili also said: “Georgia does not even have a right to think about it.”
“As far as the Eurasian Union or any other union that might be formed in our neighborhood or far from us, we will study and watch it closely; and if it is interesting and useful for our country, we can be part of any union, but, I want to stress, that it won’t happen at the expense of and in detriment to our major strategy; this major strategy will remain unchanged and at the same time any union can be considered if it does not come in conflict with our strategy,” PM Ivanishvili said.
PM Ivanishvili also said that Latvia “is a true friend” of Georgia and thanked the Latvian PM for supporting Georgia’s EU and NATO integration and its territorial integrity.
During the joint press conference the both PMs said that there was a huge potential of boosting economic ties between the two countries.
“Unfortunately we have nothing to boast about our bilateral economic ties as trade turnover [between Georgia and Latvia] is very low,” PM Ivanishvili said.
Trade turnover between the two countries was USD 69.9 million in 2012, according to the Georgian state statistics agency; imports from Latvia into Georgia stood at USD 50.9 million and export from Georgia into Latvia at USD 19 million.
“There is a huge potential to increase it manyfold,” the Georgian PM said.
“We have very close political ties and friendship – and we are proud of that, but unfortunately there is no similar level in economy and we should spare no efforts to deepen bilateral economic relations,” Ivanishvili added.
The Georgian PM, who is accompanied by Economy Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, head of the National Investment Agency Giorgi Pertaia, as well as Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili, also met on September 6 a group of Latvian businessmen.
Also on September 6, PM Ivanishvili met Latvian President Andris Bērziņš and parliament speaker Solvita Āboltiņa.
During his two-day visit to Latvia, PM Ivanishvili will participate in the Riga Conference 2013, an annual high-level foreign and security policy forum. PM Ivanishvili is among speakers at the forum. Secretary of Georgian National Security Council, Giga Bokeria, is also participating in the conference.
After Latvia, the Georgian PM will pay a two-day visit to Estonia on September 8-9.