Joint Press Conference Prime Minister of Georgia Print Version

2017-05-12

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Thank you, Mister Prime Minister.

It is a great pleasure to be in Estonia, prodigious friend of Georgia. It is my first visit in capacity of the Prime Minister, but before this, I had a pleasure of being here many times. My first visit was 31 years ago as a Soviet soldier. I spent 3 years in Estonia; and one thing I remember best was the very special spirit that united Estonians and Georgians, and that spirit was a very strong spirit of independence.

I would like to start with congratulating you on the forthcoming EU Council Presidency. This is a challenging task as it comes at a defining time for the future of the European Union. Therefore, we wish you all the success to accomplish the shared vision of a united Europe.

We welcome Estonia's support for the Eastern Partnership, which will be one of the priorities of its Presidency. We all look forward to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels in November, which we expect will ensure practical deliverables but also set a forward-looking vision for progressive development of our relations.

Estonia is one of steadfast supporters of Georgia's European integration. With this support and our joint efforts, Georgia has been advancing on its ambitious association agenda with the EU. Introduction of the visa-free travel is a vivid example of our successful cooperation. I take this opportunity to thank Estonia and Prime Minister for supporting Georgia on this very difficult path.

We are fully committed to further intensify reforms in order to bring to our citizens the practical benefits of the association with the EU.

This year is also important in our bilateral relations: we celebrate 25 years of establishing diplomatic relations between Georgia and the Republic of Estonia.

The results of ourlongstanding friendship and strong partnership speak for themselves.

We are proud that our relations areflourishing in every directionand as a consequence our economic relations and trade figures are expanding (last year we have observed 21% growth); we welcome increased Estonian investments, especially in energy sector and increased export of Georgian wine to Estonia; we are glad that the number of Estonian visitors is growing every year. I am confident that the visa free travel recently introduced for Georgian citizens will further intensify people to people contacts. Also, it will enable Georgian citizens traveling to Estonia to see the firsthand results of European integration.

I am especially pleased that our cooperation is in line with the 4-point reform proposal of the Government of Georgia: tax legislation reform that has been implemented in accordance to the Estonian model; it has been very successful in bringing new dynamism into Georgia's economic development; promotion of entrepreneurship, e-governance, education reform.At the same time we witness most frequent exchange of high level visits and unprecedented cooperation between the agencies and line Ministries; Estonian experts operatein almost every sphere andcontributing to the capacity building of our civil servants.More and more Georgian students choose Estonia as the study and research destination. This is particularly positive as, eventually, these students are destined to become cultural ambassadors of Estonia to Georgia.

I would like to once again underline that Estonia serves as a role model for Georgia. I would like to offer our most heartfelt gratitude for being our friend and partner all over these years and being supportive to every our effort including to our NATO integration agenda.

We have of course discussed the grave security and humanitarian situation in the occupied regions of Georgia and aggressive steps by the Russian occupation forces towards the factual annexation of the regions, including the closure of the so-called crossing points along the occupation line in Abkhazia, illegal referendum in the Tskhinvali region and the so-called "elections" in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions.

All these events once again prove the need of international presence in both occupied regions of Georgia and the full implementation of the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement between Georgia and Russia.

I would like once again to underline the commitment of the Government of Georgia to continue the peaceful conflict resolution policy.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity and express our gratitude to the Government of Estonia for the strong support of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity that Estonia takes especially close to heart since Estonians historically living in Abkhazia, Georgia from 19th century were forced to leave their homes as well.

Once again, dear Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality,for supporting Georgia at this difficult time. I would like to express our hopes that our economic cooperation in many other areas will broaden further. I would like to reiterate our official invitation to visit Georgia any time of your convenience. Thank you.

Prime Minister of Estonia

Thank you.
Good afternoon!
It is an honor to host my good colleague, Prime Minister. You are warmly welcome!

The bilateral relations between Estonia and Georgia are excellent.

This June, we celebrate 25 years after the establishment of our diplomatic relations. We fully support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. It should not be forgotten that a big part of Georgia is still occupied by Russia.

I am sincerely glad that Georgia was granted visa-free travel in the EU. It is a true achievement in EU integration and a remarkable achievement of the Government of Georgia and the Georgian people.

The Eastern Partnership is a long-standing priority for Estonia, and we want to strengthen it during our Presidency of the EU Council starting in July.

As you know, the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels is scheduled for November 24. We will have to work on high-level participation at the Summit and on deliverables.

I also encourage my colleague to use tailor-made solutions provided by the Eastern Partnership Estonian Center, especially in advancing reforms in Georgia.

Our cooperation in the areas of defense, education, e-governance, and on EU-related issues is excellent.

At our meeting, we also discussed how to boost the economic cooperation between our two countries. I believe that there is great potential for that. The adoption of the Estonian tax system is a good example of that. Yet we need to increase mutual investments, too.

Once more, welcome. Thank you!