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Spanish Foreign Minister meets Vashadze

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, March 4
The EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia should be extended and allowed to conduct its mission in Georgia’s conflict regions, Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Foreign Minister of Spain which currently holds the EU Presidency, said on Wednesday after a meeting with his Georgian counterpart Grigol Vashadze. Speaking at a joint press conference at the Georgian Foreign Ministry, Moratinos hailed the EUMM's activities in the country.

The two Foreign Ministers discussed the issue of cooperation between the EU and Georgia, according to Moratinos. “I can confirm that the Lisbon Agreement, which envisages Georgia getting closer to European structures, remains in force,” he stated, adding that Georgia will receive assistance in its quest to integrate with the EU. The European Union recognises Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Spanish Foreign Minister said.

Moratinos commented on Georgian-Russian relations as well, saying that the EU wants these to improve. “It will be a long and painful road. We know how much efforts are being made at the Geneva talks. We have heard about Georgia’s strategy on its occupied territories. The EU will study the document and express its position,” the Spanish Minister said, adding that a special conference will be held to discuss Georgia’s strategy document.

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze assessed the meeting with Moratinos as “successful”. Vashadze hailed his Spanish counterpart for his support for Georgia during the August 2008 conflict with Russia. “Miguel Angel Moratinos was the one of the first persons to come to Georgia during the August war. His position on Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is firm. Georgia getting closer to the EU was his idea and his contribution in this respect is quite big,” the Georgian Minister said.

Moratinos visited the newly reopened Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border crossing point earlier on Wednesday before meeting Vashadze. He hailed the decision of the Georgian Government to reopen the only official land border crossing point with Russia, saying that it is the first step towards reconnecting Georgia and Russia. Moratinos stressed the importance of involving the EU in improving Georgian-Russian relations. Speaking to journalists at the Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border, the Spanish Foreign Minister expressed hope that Moscow and Tbilisi would find a “common language”.

“Larsi is a connection and cooperation point between the two countries, as well as a way of easing border crossing procedures and everyday life for citizens,” he said. Moratinos said that one of the aims of his visit to the Larsi border crossing point was to see how the EU could assist in developing Georgia’s border infrastructure.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Davit Jalaghania, who accompanied Moratinos to the Georgian-Russian border, said that the impressions of the EU representatives about the Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border crossing point were “positive”. “Their impressions were very emotional and quite positive in terms of the infrastructure at Larsi. The step taken by the Georgian Government [to reopen the checkpoint] was also assessed positively,” Jalaghania said.

Georgia’s newly adopted strategy on its occupied regions was the main subject of a further meeting, between Moratinos and Georgian Minister for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili, who introduced Moratinos to Georgia’s plans for implementing the strategy. “The support of the state which holds the EU Presidency in working out this plan and its implementation is very important,” Iakobashvili stated after the meeting. Moratinos evaluated Georgia’s strategy towards Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a “positive document” and reiterated the EU’s willingness to be involved in discussing ways of implementing the strategy.

Moratinos, who arrived in Tbilisi early on Wednesday, will leave Georgia on March 4.