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Georgia and Egypt strive for “more intense cooperation”

By Mzia Kupunia
Thursday, May 27
The Foreign Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Ahmed Abul Gheit, paid a visit to Georgia on Tuesday and met Georgian state officials including Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze and Parliament Speaker David Bakradze. The Georgian and Egyptian sides signed an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and tax evasion on income and capital, the Georgian Foreign Ministry has reported. A separate memorandum was signed between the National Archive of Georgia and the National Library and Archive of Arab Republic of Egypt, concerning exchange of archive material, according to the Ministry.

During the meeting at the Foreign Ministry Vashadze and Gheit discussed bilateral relations in the economic, cultural and educational fields and the situation in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “I would like to stress that since 2009 bilateral relations between Egypt and Georgia have started to develop intensively. These relations concern all fields, especially economics, education and foreign policy,” the Georgian Foreign Minister said. “I would like to thank my Egyptian colleagues for the support we have received from Egypt since the very first day of Georgia’s independence,” Vashadze added, hailing the “balanced approach of the Egyptian Government towards the South Caucasus, especially towards the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Georgia.”

Defending a state’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is an internationally recognised principle, the Egyptian Foreign Minister said at a joint press conference with his Georgian counterpart. “Egypt is interested in peace in the Caucasus. We hope that the three countries of the South Caucasus will settle their relations with each other, as well as with their neighbouring states, in such a way that their territorial integrity is protected,” Gheit stated.

Egypt might consider transporting wheat and grain from Kazakhstan to Egypt via Georgia, Gheit said at the press conference. He noted that Egypt imports about 7-8 million tonnes of wheat from Kazakhstan annually through Russia and Finland. “The cost of this is quite expensive,” the Egyptian Foreign Minister said. “Transporting grain from Kazakhstan through Georgia via the Black Sea would significantly reduce expenditure and be beneficial for Georgia as well,” he added. He noted that this issue had been discussed earlier, during the visit of Grigol Vashadze and Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri to Egypt. Gheit said that he is going to appeal to the Georgian and Egyptian Presidents concerning this.

Later Gheit met the Georgian Parliament Speaker. He discussed a wide range of subjects with Bakradze, including “deepening economic relations” between the two countries, Parliament's Press Service has reported. “Egyptian businessmen’s interest in investing in Georgia is increasing day by day,” the Foreign Minister noted. Bakradze expressed his hope that relations between the two countries will become “more intensive and diverse.”