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15th anniversary of Georgian-Finnish diplomatic relations

The 8th July 2007will mark the 15th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the Republic of Finland. The last 15 years were quite intense with a lot of positive developments in our bilateral relations and an international arena. Indeed, our cooperation has been friendly and mutually productive with genuine understanding of problems of each side and coinciding interests in a significant range of issues.

The decade and a half that has passed since this important date was a testing time for Georgia. I am proud to state that my country has moved from a weak state with attendant challenges and frustration in early nineties to vibrant and dynamically developing democratic society.

We are grateful for Finland’s political support, which has been rendering to the young Georgian state during the last decade. Finland’s assistance was also valuable during its EU presidency. Strengthening the economic cooperation with EU countries is one of the top priorities of the Georgian Government. In this respect, enhancing economic cooperation with Finland both in bilateral and multilateral formats is of paramount importance for us.

Finland and Georgia have many similarities: being small nations, bordering the big and strong neighbors have always struggled for independence and preservation of national identity. As history has shown, Finland’s North-East and Georgia’s South-East extreme location in the European continent created both opportunities and challenges to our nations.

The most significant challenge on our path to the democratic transformation and consolidation are the protracted unresolved conflicts in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

It is important to underscore Georgia unwavering commitment to a peaceful resolution of these conflicts and there is no alternative to this. As a democracy we are committed to solving all problems in a peaceful and transparent manner. The conflicts do not only risk undermining Georgia’s progress; they pose danger to European stability more generally and inhibit further democratization on Europe’s eastern frontiers. The existing negotiating and peacekeeping arrangements are dishonest and biased. Naturally, this makes us wary of the so-called peacekeepers on the ground. At the same time, Georgia is actively searching for new approaches to conflict resolution.

Georgia’s progress in renewing its political and economic institutions is important not only to our own future, but for the region as a whole — and for entire Europe as well. Our hope is that Georgia can help inspire progress towards democracy in neighbouring countries Advancing democracy on regional level will enhance the security of Georgia and of Europe. An important tool to pursue this objective is active participation in the regional forums aimed at advancing good governance, human rights, and the rule of law, such as the Community of Democratic Choice, uniting countries from the Black to Baltic Sea; the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development - GUAM; and the Black Sea Forum.

Meanwhile, our relations with the Russian Federation remain complex. One of our most important foreign policy goals is to build a relationship with Russia that based on the principles of partnership, neighbourhood, and equality. Despite the challenges in this, there have been positive developments – especially the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia, the recent return of the Russian Ambassador to Tbilisi, renewal of issuing visas for Georgian citizens and the toning down of Moscow’s aggressive rhetoric. At the same time the total embargo and blockade that Russia last year imposed on Georgia continues till now. We have repeatedly expressed our readiness for open and constructive talks with our Russian colleagues. We are ready for compromise. Let me be clear, however, that the territorial integrity of Georgia, our democratic path of development and our European and Euro-Atlantic choice are not and will not be subject to negotiation…

Georgia’s contribution to European and Euro-Atlantic security is an indivisible and natural component of a process that holds great historical significance for my country – Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration. This integration is a natural process for Georgia. Our aspirations in case of international institutions we are going to join to reflect the values and principles that Georgians hold dear. To pursue our ambition to build a strong, enduring and democratic state that is at peace with its neighbours and able to assume its responsibilities on the regional and global level, we are actively cooperating with international organizations that share this vision, particularly with the EU and NATO.

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that we are determined to move along the course to the family of democratic nations and Finland is one of our important friends, whose support will make it possible one day in the not so remote future to find Georgia’s rightful place in the European family. 

                                                                                                                                                                                         Amiran Kavadze

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