Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski and Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze, October 19, 2017. Photo: MFA Poland
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski paid a two-day official visit to Georgia on October 19-20, meeting with President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, and Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze.
Minister Waszczykowski began his visit by paying homage to the memory of former Polish President Lech Kaczyński, laying a wreath at his monument, erected in Tbilisi after the Smolensk disaster of April 10, 2010, when a numerous Polish delegation, led by President Kaczyński, died in an air crash.
The chief Polish diplomat then held a meeting with President Giorgi Margvelashvili, with the two discussing a range of issues, including Georgia’s EU and NATO integration, Russia’s policy towards it neighbors and the coming Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels.
On October 19, Waszczykowski met with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili as well. According to the Georgian government, “the two sides spoke about various aspects of bilateral cooperation, Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration, the EaP summit and the ongoing reforms in the country,” with PM Kvirikashvili thanking Minister Waszczykowski for the Polish support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The Polish MFA said in its press release of the meeting that the two also discussed prospects for the development of economic cooperation, as well as regional and European security in the context of Poland’s non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
The Polish Foreign Minister met with his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Janelidze on October 20. The two diplomats opened the second meeting of the Tbilisi Conference, a sectoral cooperation format designed for sharing the Polish experience in the EU and NATO integration.
Speaking on Georgia’s EU aspirations at his joint press conference with Mikheil Janelidze, Minister Waszczykowski noted that the Eastern Partnership “should lead” Georgia and other partner countries to full membership of the European Union, adding that “so far, it has been only bringing them closer and closer to the European Union,” without offering them the perspective of full membership.
“This is our task – [of] countries like Poland, full members of the European Union – to modernize and to upgrade the [Eastern] Partnership program to provide perspective for full membership to Georgia and other countries of the Eastern Partnership in the European Union,” he said.
As part of his visit to Georgia, Waszczykowski also attended the opening of the new Polish Embassy premises in Tbilisi, where he stated that the occasion marked “a new stage of structural changes in Poland’s MFA.”
Poland’s New Eastern Policy
In an interview published during Minister Waszczykowski’s South Caucasus trip, the Polish Minister indicated that Poland would conduct a more active foreign policy in the South Caucasus region, saying that “Georgia is the most determined in terms of integration with the European and Euro-Atlantic community.”
Waszczykowski noted that “Poland, as one of the authors of the Eastern Partnership concept, is particularly keen on the further development of EaP policy,” adding that the objective of the Eastern Partnership summit in November “should be to show that the reform process implemented with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine and with the other partners brings immediate benefits and leads to them actually getting closer to the EU.”
He also noted that despite the fact that the EaP was “not supposed to lead to enlargement,” the Polish side has always been of the opinion that the EU treaty provisions that state that every European country has the right to apply for membership, “without a doubt, also apply to EaP countries.”
On Russia, the Polish Foreign Minister said that its policies contained “neo-imperial elements, nostalgic longing for the Soviet Union,” which became clear “with the aggression on Georgia in 2008, and quite obvious after the occupation of the Crimea and the provocation of the conflict in Donbas.”