As part of his first official visit to France on February 6-8, Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze held meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly Élisabeth Guigou.
At the meeting with Minister Désir on February 6, the sides talked on relations between the European Union and Georgia, as well as the regional situation in the Caucasus, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
The Georgian MFA reported that the sides paid special attention to the process of Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration. “Harlem Désir congratulated Mikheil Janelidze on the European Parliament’s decision to grant Georgia visa-free travel with Europe. The Georgian Foreign Minister, for his part, thanked his French colleague for his active support of Georgia’s visa liberalization,” the Ministry’s statement reads.
With Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, the sides talked on bilateral relations, the regional situation in the Caucasus as well as the two countries cooperation in multilateral forums, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
The Georgian MFA wrote on February 7 that Minister Janelidze briefed his French counterpart on Georgian government’s priorities with regards to energy, tourism, infrastructure and agriculture and the possibility of French-Georgian cooperation in these fields.
“The importance of the French companies’ investments in Georgia was also highlighted during the meeting where the sides unanimously reaffirmed that Georgia has a great potential for becoming an attractive regional platform for European, including French business,” the MFA statement said.
“The French Foreign Minister reiterated the country’s support to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, condemned attempts to annex the territories of sovereign countries and noted that France regards the so-called agreements with Georgia’s occupied regions as unacceptable,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry wrote in its statement.
At the meeting with Élisabeth Guigou, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, the sides also talked on bilateral relations, security environment in the region and the EU-Georgia cooperation.
Addressing the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee on February 8, Janelidze stated that Georgia is the EU’s “main ally in the area of security” and underlined that “having such a democratic and stable ally as Georgia is in the interests of Europe.”
“Despite occupation of its territories, Georgia will never swerve from the peaceful path and will never waste the opportunity to get closer to Europe,” Janelidze told MPs.
Only stable and democratic Georgia, Janelidze added, “can get united with Europe and make the occupant country leave its territory peacefully.” For that reason, “Georgia critically needs France’s support in this, which it does really have and hopes to have it in the future as well,” he added.
Janelidze spoke on Georgia’s European aspirations with Radio France Internationale (RFI) as well.
“We have achieved a lot of progress in creating a truly European state … The visa-free travel is a good compliment to all these [reforms implemented by Georgia],” the Foreign Minister told RTI journalist.
Final objective of Georgia “definitely is a full-fledged membership of the European family,” Janelidze explained.
He also added that Georgia “is doing everything,” to be considered as a country that has “the same level of development, institutional development,” as the European member states, “even without the name of being a member of the European Union.”
Janelidze also pointed out that the country needs more support from the European Union. “We are getting support in the form of technical assistance, in the form of financial assistance, but we also spending our resources and we are spending much more than even candidate countries were spending on reforming their institutions,” Janelidze said.