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On December 6, 2006, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Gela Bezhuashvili met with Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Sweden  Carl Bildt, who paid a one-day working visit to Georgia.

During the meeting the sides discussed prospects of future bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Particularly, they focused on the aspects of further enhancement and development of  cooperation with the European Union. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden proposed to support the Georgian side in the process of implementation of the European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan. The sides stressed the necessity of development of trade-economic cooperation between the two countries and attraction of  Swedish investments to Georgia’s Economy. The importance of widening the bilateral legal framework was underlined. The sides considered political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries as an important mechanism for the development of cooperation. Mr. Bildt invited the Georgian Foreign Minister  to the Kingdom of Sweden in the first half of 2007.

In the framework of the visit the Swedish Minister will also meet with President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia Nino Burjanadze.

December 6, 2006


Joint Briefing of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Sweden  

Gela Bezhuashvili:

Greetings! Today we are playing host to Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Sweden Carl Bildt. His visit is of great importance given the dynamically developing relations between Georgia and Sweden in the last ten years, including both: the format of bilateral relations and the process of integration into the European Union.

In the context of bilateral relations we discussed today the programmes we are going to carry out in the future. These programmes deal primarily with economic relations and growth of trade. We mean the attraction of Swedish companies to Georgia and facilitation of the access of Georgian business and companies to the Swedish market and that of the European Union.

Sweden is politically a very good friend of Georgia, a very active member in the European Union and we are therefore grateful to Sweden for actively supporting the interests of Georgia at all international forums.

At the meeting we also discussed the possibilities to continue the projects on the training of our staff, our diplomats in the Kingdom of Sweden.     

We focused on the contribution Sweden may provide in terms of making more effective the implementation of the Action Plan signed by us with the European Union.

The next year is going to be highly important in the sense that we are starting a policy of very active economic diplomacy. Sweden’s rich experience in this field will be of great benefit to us.

Welcome again Mr. Minister and thank you for your visit to Georgia.

Carl Bildt:

Thank you very much, we appreciate the opportunity to come to Georgia. As we said there is a longstanding regular relationship between Sweden and Georgia that has been substantially augmented in the last few years. The progress of both democratic and economic reforms in Georgia has paved the way for substantial improvement in relationship and I am quite certain that we will see even more of that in the future. The fact that World Bank nominated Georgia as the number one in terms of improving business climate in the world sends a very strong signal to investors as well as to other countries on the reform path that Georgia is undertaking.

We have discussed different aspects of cooperation between the European Union and Georgia and between Sweden and Georgia. The implementation of the Action Plan in the context of Neighbourhood policy is of course crucially important for the coming years, and Sweden as the Minister indicated is prepared to give help in a number of different directions.

We have different bilateral initiatives and bilateral programmes undertaken as well.  There is an aid of twelve million dollars, we have now established an office in Tbilisi to be able to manage it. We are also very pleased to have Ambassador of Georgia in Stockholm that will further facilitate the expansion of relationship. And the Minister will come to Stockholm within the next few months to continue these relations.

Question: How are you going to mobilize the support of entire Europe for Georgia?

Carl Bildt:

Well, I think, if you look at the last year this year we see a continuous increase in European Union’s support for Georgia. When there was critical state of relationship with Russia, the strong statement came from the European Union, which expressed a deep concern over the measures taken by Russia, and those issues were high on the political agenda of the talks that were conducted between the European Union and Russia. The statement made by the European Union at the OSCE Ministerial in Brussels reflected this very positive and supportive attitude towards Georgia. So, at the political level this support is as solid as it can be.

Question: My question is for both Ministers. As the Russian Foreign Minister stated at the Ministerial in Brussels it is not inconceivable that Russia may withdraw from OSCE. How can you explain this statement?

Gela Bezhuashvili:

I was in Brussels. It was not stated directly but an indirect reference was in fact made. I want to tell you that all the remaining countries stated their position that OSCE should become an organization for making decisions and executing them. All countries except Russia focused their attention on it and therefore I found such statement of Russia rather strange, but it is not strange because Russia as before remains alone in its approach to Georgia. Russia was the only country not joining the consensus created while elaborating a statement on Georgia, which points to the fact that it is the choice of Russia to put itself in an isolated position. I noted it in my remarks in Brussels.

Carl Bildt:

I was not in Brussels and I did not listen to what Lavrov said, but we have discussions concerning the future role and the nature of work of the OSCE, and Russia has its views and sometimes they are expressed evidently in some particular terms. We value the cooperation that we have with Russia inside the OSCE and I don’t think they will leave. 

Question: Today the Russian State Duma is going to review the document on recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Is it likely that the Duma may adopt this decision and if so, what will be the consequences, in your opinion?

Gela Bezhuashvili:

In my belief it would be a very serious error. On my part I would like to call on the Russian side to consider seriously what it is doing or what it is going to do. But I don’t want to anticipate events. It still remains to be seen whether this process is real indeed. But in my belief, let me repeat, it would be an error.

Question: The UN was scheduled to consider the GUAM Initiative on the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Is the consideration of these issues underway or was it postponed? And if it was postponed why did it happen so?

Gela Bezhuashvili:

As for the GUAM Resolution, we discussed it at the meeting of GUAM Ministers in Brussels, where we drew up a strategy and tactic of our actions. This issue is included into the work programme of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly and will remain on the agenda during one year, until September. Therefore, it is the matter of tactics and strategy when we may find it expedient to consider this issue and put it to vote.

Preliminary review of this issue was scheduled in December. The GUAM Foreign Ministers took a joint decision not to put forward this issue at the UN session owing to the fact that there is not yet adequate support for it within UN. But we will pose this issue when, according to our strategy and tactic, we will find it expedient to do so. Let me reiterate that this issue will remain on the agenda of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly.

Question:   Mr. Minister, you had important bilateral meetings in Brussels, which dealt, among other issues, with peaceful resolution of the conflicts as well. You also met with Daniel Fried and Foreign Ministers of some of the EU countries. Did you discuss the issue of conflicts at these meetings?

Another question for the Swedish Minister: Georgia, in order to give its consent to Russia’s accession to WTO, demands the abolition of the illegally operating border checkpoints. For this it is necessary co conduct international monitoring over these checkpoints. Is the European Union ready for it?

Gela Bezhuashvili:

As for the bilateral relations, I held many meetings. I would like to tell you that conflicts are focus of discussions during the bilateral meetings held not only by me but also by all members of our Government. Therefore, conflicts were high on the agenda of my talks in Brussels as well. 

We extensively discussed this issue with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, as a country assuming the chairmanship of OSCE in 2007. We introduced to the Spanish Minister our priorities and our vision of resolution of the conflicts on the territory of Georgia.

I passed to him a letter laying down our priorities. The Spanish Foreign Minister expressed his interest and determination to arrive in Georgia in February to get a firsthand knowledge of the existing situation.

Meetings with other Ministers proceeded along the same lines. Broadly, the aim of these meetings was to consolidate the support of our European friends for our approaches that are widely known, in particular: direct dialogue with our Abkhazian and Ossetian fellow citizens, format of unbiased peace negotiations and involvement of new actors in this process.

In this context we attach a tremendous importance to the European Union’s role that can be very serious in the conflict resolution process. This is the very issue our bilateral meetings centred on.

Carl Bildt:

Yes, briefly on the border control issue. The demand of Georgia in this respect is a logical, natural and reasonable one and I think that we need further discussions on how that could be met within the context of the ongoing process of accession of Russia in the WTO. We are working on some sort of resolutions concerning these issues. Thank you very much.
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